My experience in Karangasem Orphanage

The experience is hard to express only by words but I will do my very best to give you an insight of my time on Bali with my Balinese family as I call all the people I met volunteering there and enclosed in my heart forever. After a good but very long flight I am overwhelmed by the heat and the smells surrounding me as I take my first steps outside the airport. Luckily my driver is already waiting and driving me safely to the students’ house in Sanur. This is where I spend my first night with three other Germans and one American. They are very welcoming and invite me for a ride to the fish market which I appreciate... I am too excited anyway and too tired to sleep.

The first day with a full Bali experience: we take the scooter through the small and confusing streets to a place near the beach where many warungs line up and fresh fish is served. We sit on the floor between the rats and enjoy the freshly grilled fish with our hands and I am surprised that even I like it although I usually never eat fish. From now on I tell myself to try everything new without fear and prejudice.

The next day, Angie and Caro pick me up to drive me to the orphanage in Ujung. I am overwhelmed by the country sight and hardly speak a word as I soak in everything I see on the way up the hills. The drive lasts about one and a half hours and the streets up through the mountains get more and more difficult and adventurous until I think: Holy crap, I am up here alone and there’s no way I am driving down there on a scooter by myself. The people in the village look so surprised as they see us driving through the woods up to the orphanage. I will later experience this is lot more: they are not used to white people in their village and invite me in every chance they get. The children are just as excited as I am and I cannot stop the tears rolling down my face even though I am trying hard to pull myself together. It’s just very much to take in for the first day being there.

Caro and Angie show me my room which is directly next to the orphanage in a small house, where a young Hindu couple lives. Sadly, they don’t understand a word of English but that doesn’t bother me when waking them up in the middle of the night when I am scared of a huge lizard in my room. They are happy to help me plus they play very great and loud music at 5 in the morning ;)

The room has a new mattress and is big enough (even has a TV with great Indonesian entertaining in case you can’t sleep at night) with a toilet and shower.

The weird smell stops bothering me after the long and exhausting days working with the children and I sleep surprisingly good. The cows, birds and chickens create a great background sound and the view in the morning outside my room reimburses for all the mosquito bites I get at night

The thirteen kids from age 3 to 14 are adorable and welcome me with their warm smiles. There’s always some kind of chaos which I get used to pretty fast and the kindness of the children and staff lets me forget my first shock. They are too nice to even tell me what to do and the first days they still treat me like a guest making me coffee and preparing the tastiest papayas and bananas for me. They are a dream.

I try to teach English twice a day but it ends up being an Indonesian class for me. I feel that the kids are eager to learn since most of them don’t go to school. Komang, one of the boys, is said to be thirteen years old and I am very surprised by this fact as he looks like seven and can hardly read or write. I get sad in little moments when I watch the kids and think about what they might have been through at their young age.

Then I see how happy they are with Ibu Tina and the other staff members as their family. I really think that this is more than an orphanage, it’s a real family for the kids and I’m happy to be a part of this lovely environment they have created for them. Ibu Tina is such a strong and courageous woman I admire very much. I am grateful to help them in their daily work, building chicken cages and preparing food for the pigs and I see that they are grateful that I am willing and happy to help.

Ibu Tina is also very devoted in her Christian belief which she shares with me. Everyone is always praising God and thanking him for the little things happening in their lives. They thank Jesus and bless me for being able to drive their car, as they are too scared to do so. This gives them an opportunity to drive down with a load full of papayas and selling them on the market.