Elephant Safari Park

The Elephant Safari Park and Lodge in Taro provides a peaceful sanctuary for displaced elephants, and a highly enjoyable experience for visitors to the island; but it is the story behind its creation, and the history of the gentle giants that ramble across it, that make this park so unique. It’s a chronicle of disappearing forests, neglected elephants, dramatic rescue operations, and a man with a mission and the will power to see it through. His name is Nigel Mason.

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 “The elephants are our star attraction, so we treat them like stars,” says Nigel as an 800-kilo elephant called Desi playfully wraps her trunk around him. “Look, they are so gentle you can put your hand right in their mouth,” he demonstrates. I content myself with feeding our large friend bundles of young coconut leaves, for which I am rewarded with a great big elephant hug, I scratch the trunk that has a firm grip on my waist – its not exactly soft, but the all encompassing embrace is kind of nice.  30 elephants live in this lush oasis, with a landscape painstakingly created to replicate their natural habitat, the low lying rainforests of Sumatra.  As we wander around I find a flurry of elephant activity; some carry guests on forest treks, others kick soccer balls, or wade in the bathing pool soaking up trunks of water to give themselves – and anyone who happens to be nearby a shower.  A very cute baby elephant runs amok, trunk madly swinging, playing like a frisky puppy, he is one of three babies born in the park (a successful breeding program is a sure sign of animal wellness.) Although I had originally been reluctant about visiting the park – animal theme parks in Asia can be depressing places – I end up having a really inspiring and very happy day, surrounded by  these magnificent animals that are so obviously well loved and cared for. “We offer a complete elephant experience,” says Nigel, “we’re able to be really interactive, and guests can get close to the elephants in a way that they never could in a traditional safari park.”

Refugees

While you might be reading this and thinking,  “Surely these elephants would be better off in the wild,” the answer is yes, in an ideal world they would be, but these animals are refugees from the ongoing war of  man vs nature, that has seen the destruction of around 30 million acres of rain forest in Sumatra in the last 30 years.  “The species have been hounded out of Sumatra,” says Nigel. Rampant logging has destroyed much of their natural habitat; the rainforest that was once their home steadily replaced by oil palm and acacia plantations. Unfortunately an elephant isn’t discerning enough to differentiate between natural forest and man-made plantations – he just sees food.  A single hungry elephant wandering through an oil palm plantation can wreak havoc, eating up to 250 kg a day – that’s a lot of plants, and a lot of lost revenue. “Elephants are migratory,” says Nigel, “they follow fixed routes that may take 12 months to complete. The problem is, when they get back to where they started a year ago, the forest might be gone, replaced with an oil palm plantation for example – and believe me, oil palms are very tasty for an elephant, so suddenly people’s livelihoods are being destroyed.” Deemed as giant pests, farmers and plantation owners sometimes resort to poison, using pineapples laced with strychnine. The ‘lucky ones’ are rescued and relocated to Government training camps, forlorn places that lack the facilities and the funds to properly care for the elephants that literally waste away. Nothing evokes the magical allure of the jungle like an elephant, but for the 2000 or so endangered elephants living in increasingly fragmented pockets of Sumatra, and for the 700 incarcerated in the camps, the future is grim and uncertain.

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From Sumatra to Bali

It’s not like Nigel, as a child growing up in England and Egypt dreamt of one day coming to Bali to rescue elephants, but with a life that can only be described as adventurous and colourful,  it somehow makes perfect sense that this is what he ended up doing.  At the age of 15 he immigrated, alone, to Australia, making a living digging ditches and picking fruit, followed by a brief foray into the music industry. A spontaneous trip to Bali in 1980 sealed his fate, when he fell in love with the island, and not long afterwards with Yani, the beautiful Balinese woman who would became his wife. By 1989 they were running Bali’s first white water rafting tours, which soon morphed into the company Bali Adventure Tours. Nigel describes himself as an animal lover, but the elephants came into his life quite by accident when he met a man who had bought nine Sumatran elephants to Bali as a tourism venture, but was having trouble taking care of them. Nigel was so moved by the poor condition of the elephants who were living in a dried out rice field, that he knew he had to do something. “They deserved a whole lot more,” he says.  He secured some land in the hills of Taro, north of Ubud, and in 1996 opened the Elephant Park, originally as an adjunct to the rafting business. But Nigel is not a man who does things by half, once he took on the first batch of elephants, he set out to find out everything he could about the animals and how to best look after them. Within a year he was on his way to Sumatra to rescue eight more elephants from the government camps, returning with a ten -truck convoy that travelled six days non-stop to bring the animals to their new home in Bali. By 2000 the park had expanded and improved, to include landscaped gardens, a restaurant, a museum, water treatment, a sustainable waste disposal system and a breeding area. Ready to rescue more elephants, Nigel returned to Sumatra in 2001 planning to bring back another ten, but this mission turned into a four-year heart-wrenching bureaucratic nightmare, in the midst of which Bali was bombed, tourism plummeted and businesses across the island collapsed.  Finally in 2004 the paper work was in order, the funds secured and ten Sumatran elephants, including two babies were loaded onto trucks for the arduous trip across three islands to bring them to Bali. An Australian film crew documented the road trip and the resulting film ‘Operation Jumbo’  (available at the park) makes riveting viewing.

 

Some things you didn’t know about elephants

We walk on to the museum, where I get a crash course on the anatomy, myths and history of elephants. The collection includes original Dr Seuss and Jumbo prints, a 15,000 year-old giant wooly mammoth skeleton, and a pretty decent elephant painting by Ronny Woods.  I learn that in the past many elephants lost their lives so their tusks could be turned into billiard balls and piano keys. Moving on to the sprawling open-air restaurant, we take a seat overlooking the bathing pool and the picturesque gardens. Nigel tells me that the Sumatran elephant is the smallest in the world, up to five times smaller than its cantankerous African cousin. While they can be gentle and playful, they have strong and unique personalities and get bored and despondent if they are just hanging around.  They also need to exercise, so join the daily rotation for elephant rides, (the weight of two people is easily borne by an 800 kilo creature;) lodge rooms have their own docking station so guests get door to door service.  And yes, the adage about elephants having incredibly long memories is definitely true – Ramona, who came by truck in 1996 has gone on to become an exalted painter but she still dances, a trick taught to her by young boys during her days as a youngster in an elephant camp in Sumatra. As we chat, her baby, Guntun, the park’s cheekiest resident and expert gate opener streaks across the grounds, bellowing like a trooper, Nigel tells me that he has also developed his mothers aptitude for painting.

 

Elephant Art

While an elephant skillfully kicking a soccer ball or wielding a paint brush may seem a little gimmicky, I learn that in the wild they will often kick around coconuts, or use sticks, pebbles and leaves to make pictures in the earth. Nigel explains that the park elephants  are given the freedom to express themselves in whatever form appeals to them; those that have a natural aptitude for painting are actively encouraged, with results that can only be described as abstract.  Each has a different style – although Ramona’s mahout (handler) says “She paints only when she is inspired; ” some of her pictures have sold at Christies for over $3000. The elephants were taught to paint by the founders of the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project, who visited the Park in 1999. The aim was to produce saleable art to help raise awareness of the plight of these gentle giants, and to raise much needed funds for the park’s Sumatran Elephant Foundation. While Nigel hopes, in time to bring more rescued elephants to Bali, for now the Sumatran government has halted transmigration, so proceeds from the foundation are used to provide elephants in the camps with extra food, medicine, veterinary care and vitamins.

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Nigel breaks off from our interview to grab a chainsaw – it seems that one of the trees bordering the bathing pond is dead and in danger of toppling over, tourists gather round to enjoy the spectacle as he skillfully lands the offending trunk in the pond wades through to attach ropes and supervises as two elephants effortlessly haul it out.  His absolute commitment, accessibility and hands on approach to everything certainly accounts for a large part of the park’s success, as does his dedication to the environment.  For him, “Conservation is not just something that we should do, but something that we have to do.”  The park has been built to have a minimal impact and acts as a role model for safari parks around the world. “ We don’t just protect the environment, we remove anything that could damage it;” waste water is turned back into pure water through an advanced filtration/treatment system; manure (truck loads of it) gets turned into fertilizer, and 90% of the 150 staff are from Taro. The village also receives royalties from elephant treks and earns money through supplying food to the park.

 

How to help

Wild life and conservation groups applauded the declaration of the Tesso Nilo National Park in the Riau province of Sumatra in 2004, which has a forest block that is large enough to support a viable population of Sumatran tigers and elephants. “It’s a step in the right direction” says Nigel, but perhaps a case of too little too late, and a road has already been put through it, giving easy access to illegal loggers.  He encourages people to help the elephants by supporting the foundation through donations or buying art work, but for him the only way to really save the elephants, the orangutans, the tigers and all the other jungle creatures of Sumatra is to buy back large areas of forest to be used for national parks,  “But this, ” he says “would require large amounts of money from someone like Richard Branson or Bill Gates……..We live in hope.”

 

Saving the reefs of Northern Bali

The Indonesian archipelago is home to the richest assortment of coral species in the world, but its reefs are vanishing as global warming, pollution and unsustainable fishing and tourism practices take their toll.

Indonesia’s appalling conservation record is well documented and it would be easy to write yet another article about imminent disaster; but I am sick of all the doom and gloom, because with destruction comes regeneration.  While politicians  and environmental agencies gather in endless global summits and engage in pointless debates about how to fix things,  often the most effective change is happening at a grassroots level, and I knew that somewhere in Bali someone would be doing something to save the reefs.

I find my story in the north of the island, in a humble village that sits in the shadows of the mountains. Just meters off  Pemuteran’s  black sandy shore lies the  Karang Lestari (Everlasting Reef) Project, one of the largest and most ambitious coral restoration projects in the world. A reef that had badly damaged is once again thriving due to a unique technology called Bio-Rock, which uses electric currents to stimulate the growth of coral.

I have no idea what to expect, but this is unbelievable, a kind of futuristic underwater fantasy world. Fifty large steel structures span over 1000 feet and take the form of a caterpillar, a whale, an igloo, a dome, a tent, and a  flower,  all covered in a profusion of brightly coloured coral. Hundreds of tiny blue fish hover above the dome, bat fish flitter amidst the flowers. I see starfish, lionfish, a school of snapper and cheeky little Nemos everywhere. Soft pastel corals sway in the current and purple tipped table corals sprawl across the metal bars. The reef surrounding the structures is also thriving, everywhere I look I see life and vibrant colour. Natural power is the plan for future structures (which includes a Goddess rising from a lotus.) Reef Seen Aquatics Dive Center have already set  things in motion,  sponsoring two structures, a bio wreck and a giant turtle that are powered by solar panels.

Bio-Rock utilizes Mineral Accretion Technology which stimulates the growth of naturally occurring calcium carbonate, the substance that forms coral. Low levels of electric current (dc) are rigged to the structures which are then planted with coral fragments, minerals are attracted to the coral, the coral adheres to the structures and grows at an accelerated rate of up to five times. It also produces a veritable super coral that is hardier and more resistant to changing water temperatures and pollution. Healthy coral brings fish, and when combined with a ‘no fishing’ policy, it acts as a breeding ground thus replenishing fish stock for outer reefs.

Back on land, I spend time with Komang the Manager of the Bio-Rock centre, he has been involved with the project since its beginning and his dedication and insight is inspiring. He tells me that, “Bio-Rock is good because it brings the tourists, which bring money to the community, and it also brings fish so it keeps the fishermen happy.” Herein lies the true significance of the project because along with reef restoration came social and economic rejuvenation.

Traditionally Pemuteran was one of Bali’s most impoverished fishing villages. During the nineties tourists started to trickle into the area drawn to the stunning reefs. But in 1998 double catastrophe struck; El Nino sent warm currents across the globe causing mass coral bleaching; and the Asian economic crisis sent waves of starving itinerant Indonesian fishermen into Pemuteran, where the bounty was plentiful. They were armed with  dynamite and cyanide (used to stun fish to gather for aquariums) and the peace was shattered by exploding bombs.

All too often conservation conflicts with traditional resource users. How do you tell a starving fisherman that he cannot take the fish? Komang says that he couldn’t blame the fisherman because “They were only looking for this time, not the future.”  They didn’t know any better. The key to sustainability is education, and the availability of viable alternatives, and behind the scenes a group of colourful characters had been providing this.  Chris Brown the owner of Reef Seen Aquatics and a long term and well loved resident had worked tirelessly with the community  and village leaders to instill the need for sustainability and was joined by Pak Agung, the Balinese owner of  Taman Sari resort; and Rani and Narayan, ardent divers who were former members of a large religious community.  Chris tells me that “You have to take things slowly, so that they get done quickly and slowly but surely the fishermen understood. In a unique turn of events Adat (traditional) law was applied to create a no fishing zone and the Pecalang laut (marine security forces) were formed to chase of the cyanide fishermen.

Encouraged by community  efforts to conserve the reef, more colourful characters entered the scene; Dr Tom Goreau, an impassioned Jamaican marine biologist and Professor Wolf Hilbertz the German scientist who had discovered Bio-Rock. Together they had formed the Global Coral Reef Alliance and  donated their time and energy to Pemuteran, the first structures were placed in the sea in 2000. Karang Lestari has received numerous environmental awards and Government recognition, however it has been entirely sponsored by private donors and operates on the tightest of shoe string budgets. Recent initiatives include the opportunity to ‘Sponsor a baby coral’ and the establishment of PET (Pemuteran Environment and Community Trust) whereby divers can make a voluntary donation of RP 20,000 or more.

Similar projects have been attempted in other locations but without the support of the community are doomed to failure. A key to the success of Karang Lestari has been the implementation of other projects that enable the community.  Chris initiated the recruitment of ‘Reef Gardeners’ who are trained to maintain and protect the reefs, and a Turtle Hatchery which  protects sea turtles and their eggs. The Pemuteran Foundation, PET, and private tour operators also support these and various other programs aimed at education, tree planting and clean water.

To say the village is prospering would be an overstatement, but life for its inhabitants has improved dramatically. As  Komang tells me,  “Now no one is hungry.” Fishermen have been converted from hunters to protectors and have seen that conservation means more fish. Villagers have learned that by protecting the sea they benefit financially because the restored reefs bring tourists which create jobs and business opportunities, which in turn gives access to education and health care. Everybody wins!  It might just be one reef and one community, but it’s a step in the right direction and  Pemuteran acts as a model for fishing and diving communities everywhere.

For more information or to make a donation check the following websites, or take a trip to Pemuteran and see for yourself….

www.balitamansari.com

www.pemuteranfoundation.com

www.biorockbali.webs.com

www.reefseenbali.com

www.globalcoral.org

Bali Animal Welfare Association

BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association) was founded by Janice Girardi, a Californian native who rescued her first Bali dog in Kintamani 27 years ago, so beginning a one woman crusade to improve life for man’s best friend across the island. Her passion for animals and their welfare is consuming, and she is an inspiring example of how one person really can make a difference. For years she has been feeding street dogs and rescuing sick and injured animals, loading them on to a makeshift stretcher and driving them to the vet in Denpasar. In 2007 she formalized her position and along with one of Indonesia’s top veterinarians, Dr Dewa Dharma, created BAWA. Finding homes for puppies is just one of BAWA’s programs: The not-for-profit charity also supports a 24 hour clinic; an animal ambulance; a mobile sterilization clinic; an education program; and a range of community projects.

The care centre in Gianyar is run by a dedicated team of volunteers and staff and houses an average of 50 dogs and cats at a time. The level of care is heartening and eventually BAWA will find homes for all these animals, even if it means paying impoverished farmers with monthly rations of rice to take them on.

Dogs have not always fared well in Bali and the notion of having a dog as a pet is a new concept, but one that is slowly catching on. Janice describes education as, “The only hope for lasting change,” and her staff are active in schools and in the local communities. “The Balinese are learning that if you love a dog, it will return ten-fold,” she tells me.

BAWA survives soley on donations and the recent outbreak of rabies in Bali is consuming enormous amounts of resources as Janice and her team embark on an island wide mission to vaccinate dogs. For more informaion or to make a donation check http://www.balibawa.com

From Trash to Treasure

Bombastic Plastix recycles plastic bags and turns them into funky accessories.

 

They are handed out gleefully by cashiers the length and breadth of the island, used once and abandoned. Their fate − to float down rivers, ride the waves, wash up on the beaches or smolder in black smoky fires.…. In Bali there is no escaping  plastic bags.   But there is always hope, and a small company called Bombastic Plastix  is hard at work turning plastic trash into  funky fashion accessories.

Recycled products often get a bad wrap (no pun intended) because they are produced poorly with little thought for design. But Bombastic Plastix has turned recycling into an art form and their products – bags, purses, wallets,  are attractive in their own right, regardless of their ‘greenness’. Let’s face it, most of us want to do our bit to save the planet but there is nothing wrong with looking good while we are doing it.

It all started a few years ago, on Bombastic founder, Sam Miller’s kitchen floor. He was a man on a mission, armed with an environmental conscience, a keen sense of design, a heap of plastic bags and an iron. Through trial and error he discovered a way to fuse plastic bags into sheets of plastic fabric, which form the base of all his products.  “Its hardly like we are using all the plastic in the world,” he tells me, “but at least we are using some of it; and we are taking something that has a service life of 30 minutes  and converting in into something that lasts years.”

Check out the website, its great fun and really informative, and you will love Sam – he is one super cool dude!

http://www.bombasticsplastix.com

Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV/AIDS

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Talking about HIV/AIDS

It is Melasti, a time of ritual purification in the lead up to Nyepi, the Balinese New Year,  and as we drive north through the  hills we pass convoys of trucks heading south. Crammed on board are entire villages, gamelan orchestras and temple effigies being carted to the ocean for a symbolic cleansing of body and soul. Along the route I catch glimpses of Ogoh Ogohs, scary monsters with bulging eyes and crazy hair glaring out from community halls; on Nyepi eve they will be paraded and symbolically burned in a bid to cast out evil from the island. This is Bali at its rawest and most primeval, the balance between good and evil maintained by the practice of ancient rites and rituals. But modern problems call for more modern solutions; and no amount of prayer or sacrifice will lighten the shadow cast by AIDS on the unwary, unaware island.

Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV/AIDS

Prevention through education is the only answer and I  attend an  Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV/AIDS (Lets talk about HIV/AIDS) workshop in Tegallalang with I Made Gunarta (Kadek,) co founder of Bali Spirit festival. We chat as we drive slowly through the hills of Gianyar, he tells me “Right now people don’t want to talk about AIDS, they are still in denial,” and adds that, “The Balinese are very open minded, but tend to direct this inwards rather than outwards, it is a  culture that has always encouraged listening, but not so much questioning.”  The concepts of destiny and karma are also at play; AIDS  is often seen as a  shame that has to be borne by the family. “But things are slowly starting to change,” he says.

It is believed that the number of people in Bali who are infected with HIV/AIDS  will reach over 7000 in 2011. However true numbers are hard to determine as the stigma associated with the disease causes many cases to go unreported and untreated. The Chairman of the Committee for Combating AIDS, Nyoman Mangku Karmaya, has claimed that “The threat of drowning in Bali is not only posed by tsunamis composed of sea water, but also by an increasingly growing tsunami of HIV/AIDS sufferers threatening to drown and overwhelm the island.”

As a percentage of the population, figures are still low, but  Indonesia has the fastest growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS in Asia, with an estimated  314,000 people infected, a  figure set to double by 2014  if approaches to HIV prevention are not improved. An extensive sex industry; limited testing and treatment clinics; and a general lack of awareness about the disease are cited as the main factors. Many people are simply not aware that using condoms can prevent infection. The Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV/AIDS program was launched by the founders of Bali Spirit Festival to promote communication about the disease, specifically targeting Balinese women and youth.  The program partners with a number of foundations and  NGO’s already working within the community, such as  Spirit Paramacitta Foundation, Kerti Praja Foundation, and dan KISARA Foundation.

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The Workshops

The “EduSpirit” workshops, feature a uniquely Balinese approach that  combines  education, entertainment and spirituality. The aim is to increase awareness and knowledge, but also to develop compassion toward people with AIDS.  Teenagers are promoted as ‘Agents of Change,’ encouraging a ripple on effect through the community, to bring the issue out into the open.  We arrive in Tegellalang where a group of kids from the local school quietly sit waiting. The workshop is run by Wiwie, (Marketing & Communication Executive Officer of Bali Spirit Festival) and a group of young volunteers, mostly from the KISARA foundation. Their enthusiasm is inspiring, and the kids who are initially shy and a little embarrassed soon relax and throw themselves into singing and  teambuilding exercises. Wiwie tells me that they use a gentle approach to break down myths associated with HIV/AIDS. A visual presentation shows that it’s not just sex workers that are susceptible to the disease, but the whole community. Anyone, anywhere, anytime…….. The kids are then divided into small groups to make a presentation that encourages the promotion of empathy and understanding about how the disease affects individuals and their families. The workshop ends with a yoga session. After, I chat with some of the kids, most of them already knew a little about AIDS, but thought that it only affected prostitutes and drug users; they all express that it was good to learn more.

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Desa Seni Yogathon

Currently 25 workshops are planned in various locations around the island, but it is hoped that enough funds can be gathered to conduct 100 workshops over the next year. An  impressive  $14,000 was raised  on March 19 as Bali Spirit partner,  Desa Seni, staged the island’s first Yogathon. The resort took on a festival like atmosphere as more  than 200 people stretched, danced, drummed and  chanted  over 12 hours to raise money and awareness for the cause. In between classes people lazed under palm trees around the pool, enjoying the live music and the complimentary food provided by the resort. This year Desa Seni joined forces with Bali Spirit Festival as a gold sponsor and the yogathon proved an inspiring appetizer for things to come. Tom Talucci, co founder of Desa Seni was thrilled with the success of the event which far exceeded their target of $10,000, and commented,  “When people come together in force its amazing what we can do.

 

Bali Spirit Festival

Funds for ongoing workshops are also raised through donations, as well as a percentage of ticket sales from the festival itself. Bali Spirit is now well on its way to becoming the most famous holistic event in Asia, attracting world renowned yogis, performers and musicians. The annual event was born out of a vision to build and support community within the context of global music, yoga and dance. But  according to festival founders, “The greatest accomplishment is the ongoing outreach and education programs funded and fueled by the festival,” with over US $34,000 being donated to local charities.

Two years ago I met with festival co founder (and wife of Kadek,) Megan Pappenheim to talk about community outreach. She spoke of her concerns that there were parts of Bali that were being devastated by AIDS, but nobody knew about it because nobody was talking about it. It was  her  intention to  find a condom company to sponsor the festival, and to channel funds into AIDS awareness. True to her word, Fiesta Condoms were signed up as a major sponsor, and have become a highly visible presence at the festival, with an  information pavilion staffed by the lovely  ‘Fiesta girls’ handing out free condoms and Fiesta fans to the crowds.  Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV/AIDS was officially launched in March with a free rock concert in Ubud attended by over 3000 people, the majority of whom were Balinese youth. Information brochures and condoms were handed out, and the crowd was treated to some great music from Indonesian artists KIS, Ray D’Sky  and African legend Afro Moses (who headlined the festival last year.) Festival outreach staff were approached by a number of teenagers to find out how their schools could become involved in the program.  “We’re surprised and delighted at the extraordinarily high turnout for this community event,” said Megan,  “Tonight, Balinese people showed they can have fun and care about a very important cause.”

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HIV/AIDS was first recorded in Bali in 2000, among intravenous drug users, with an estimated 40-60% of known addicts testing HIV positive. However, a survey conducted six years later showed that the rate of new infections had been substantially curved through methadone treatment and free needle-exchange-programs. The recent surge in new infections is linked to the Island’s commercial sex workers, and the family members of their clients.  It is estimated that in some parts of Bali up to 20% of sex workers are HIV positive, but despite active education campaigns, only 30% of clients use prophylactics.  When you consider that approximately 8000 commercial sex workers are servicing around 90,000 clients, 60% of whom are married with children, the picture is worrying.

Yayasan Kerti Praja

I chat with Ayu, of Yayasan Kerti Praja, who have a booth at the festival, she tells me that they run the Amarta Clinic in Denpasar, offering  free STD testing, as well as  medical care and psychological support for AIDS patients. The foundation mostly works with women who have been effected by the disease, either by their husbands, or by their profession. Their mobile units visit bars and kafes offering free screening, as well as  conducting focus groups with commercial sex workers, many of who are still not aware of the dangers posed by unprotected sex, (which I learn can be  had for as cheaply as RP 20,000 in roadside brothels.) The part time sex workers – girls who operate independently out of clubs are harder to reach, as they tend deny being ‘professionals’, tending to seek longer term ‘boyfriend’ clients. She tells me that there is still a mistaken, but widely held belief that you  don’t need to use a condom if you love someone;  and that if someone appears ‘clean’ they are safe.

Kerti Praja also run a project entitled  ReLife, the positive craft, which  provides incomes for families effected by HIV/AIDS, due to husbands who have died or are too sick to work, and also former sex workers who are seeking an alternative form of income. Relife products are made from non recyclable plastic waste collected and cleaned by the women which is then turned into a range of bags, purses and wallets.

AIDS is a problem that is not simply going to disappear, but it is preventable, people just need to know how. So talk about it, especially with Indonesian friends who may not have access to this information. Anyone wishing to learn more, or to  donate money, resources or time to Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV/AIDS can contact Wiwie at admin@balispiritfestival.com