When my son, Kyle, and I first met Made Budiasa in 2006 he was a 10 year-old Balinese boy roaming the streets of Legian trying to sell leather bracelets to tourists. He let out a cheeky "G'day mate!" and "Hello Darrrrling!" to get our attention. After following us and waving his bundle of leather bracelets in our faces, Kyle and I decided rather than buying some bracelets, we would offer to buy him something to eat instead. This was quickly accepted as he was hungry from a long day of walking the streets and had no customers, therefore he had no money for food. From this chance, or Karmic encounter as I believe it was,
'Bali Smiles' was developed.
We discovered that Made along with his siblings and parents lived in a rented room in Kuta, as well as living in their home village of Munti Gunung. Munti village is a 3 1/2 hour drive from Kuta and is located at the base area the Hindu holy volcano, Mount Agung. It is situated in Karangasem regency which is known as the poorest regency in all of Bali. It is dry, arid, volcanic, lacking water and crops and there are no employment opportunities.
Made's parents were not educated. The family’s only possible source of income was to go south to the tourist areas and sell trinkets to the tourists. When we met Made, he and his family were living in abject poverty, both in Kuta and in Munti Gunung.
Bali Smiles has organically evolved over the years into 4 main areas:
*Education sponsorships to help stop the poverty cycle for the strret kids from Munti.
*Health Care by the building, equipping and staffing of the “Bali Smiles Health Clinic’ in Munti.
*Rice sponsorships to feed families who are simply not in a position to purchase food.
*Village assistance through the provision of building toilets & water wells, providing bedding, raising of pigs to produce an income, etc etc.
100% donation reaches recipient - there are no middle men, corruption issues, etc. involved with Bali Smiles. How it works? Sponsors give me cash or deposit into the Bali Smiles Bendigo Bank account. I then deposit via international money transfer to the Commonwealth sister bank, the BNI bank in Bali, in Indonesian rupiah. This is a bank account I have opened in Bali for this purpose. (Unfortunately, there are typically bank charges for this and no bank will waive this fee, so I pay this cost). Once money arrives in Bali, my representative, withdraws the money and directs it to where it needs to go. Alternatively, I take sums of money when I travel and purchase rice, goods etc at the Munti market.