By Alejandra Domenzain
I just wanted to give you a quick report on our time in Bali, though
I’m sure you’ve already heard from Nyoman, etc.
The garden project went really, really well. We ended up building 2
beds in front of the kindergarten and two in the elementary area in
the front of the school. It was definitely a group effort and
everything came together just right.
Kadek (Wanagiri kindergarten teacher) had family members with many
types of crops and we purchased lots of seedlings and sprouts from
them. Made (Nyoman’s brother) directed the whole building operation
(a wooden fence around the kindergarten beds since that area has a
fence around it already, and bamboo fences in the elementary school
area so the chickens don’t get in there). We also bought some ready-
made compost and gardening tools for adults and children.
The children were very excited to build the garden and plant. In the
elementary school, the kids pretty much took over and we just
coordinated — everything from chopping the bamboo with a machete to
digging up the grass that was already there to hammering in and
braiding the bamboo fence to planting. They were so friendly and happy
and eager to learn English words for things as we went along. They
were a really nice balance between being silly and fun-loving but then
when something was being explained they were instantly attentive and
respectful. The teachers at the kindergarten also got right into it,
sawing wood, hammering, etc. Even a couple administrators got out and
We discussed some lesson ideas with the kindergarten teachers
and made some materials.
We also talked to Nyoman about the concept of integrating the
garden in the curriculum beyond just teaching kids about organic
gardening (for example, you can tie it into math by measuring the
growth of plants, charting it and then figuring out average growth
per month, etc.; you can record daily temperatures and rainfall
and correlate to growth; on the social studies front, you can choose
one of the plants and trace its history and cultural significance,
for example, look at the potato, who used it in ancient times, what
other cultures eat it today as a staple and what their cuisine and
customs are, etc.; in geography you can look at what regions of
the world have climates appropriate for growing each type of crop;
in economics you can look at the market price for different types
of produce and do a simulation of the costs farmers face, etc.;
of course in science there are countless connections from plant
growth and reproduction to weather to insects to the physics of
nutrients in the soil such as nitrogen….) We left many, many
books about gardening — some for young children we gave to
the kindergarten and ones for older students and resources for
adults we gave to Nyoman.
We also talked with Nyoman about the idea of getting volunteers to
contribute in other ways such as doing workshops with teachers on how
to enrich their curriculum with lessons such as the ones listed above;
making bi-lingual materials for them to use and helping with things
such as updating the Bali Children’s Project website. We also talked
about posting flyers in area hotels about “specialized tours” to take
people beyond the tourist activities to see “the real Bali” for a
reasonable charge that would go to help the projects. For example, to
learn about the school system, observe a class, meet with students,
etc. or to see what Nyoman is doing helping to build houses. The
advantage is not just raising awareness but also expanding the pool of
volunteers who may be able to contribute in some way, including giving
donations to support your work.
Regarding Sanda…..it is a truly beautiful place. My mom and I were
captivated by the view and the sunsets on the gazebo were a highlight
of our stay. All in all,we had a wonderful experience. Nyoman really took
the time to explain things to us and we learned a lot about the
culture and history of Bali through him. Ilhu was really nice and
helpful. The teachers could not have been more friendly and open.
Wayan was so much more than a driver– we had great conversations
and got to meet his wife and have dinner in his home. The kids were just
a pleasure to work with. Munduk is just breathtaking. Everyone
cooperated to get the project done. We felt very fortunate to be part
of such an incredible team.
I am going to make an on-line album with the pictures I took and will
send you the link. I am also going to make a physical album and mail
it to you so you can send it to Bali documenting the process of
building the garden.
Thank you for offering us this great experience!! We fell in love with
Bali and hope to be able to return.