Permaculture Volunteering Experience – Bali, Ubud (Indonesia)

G’day! How have you all been? I really hope life is treating you well.
I have been traveling this month of June throughout Indonesia and volunteering for a Non-Profit organisation in Bali (‘Tri Hita Karana‘), in the Ubud area. The mesmerizing rice terraces, very common in the area, and its ancient rice cultivation technique in levels are a plus. What an amazing time!

The Experience

Traveling is such a pleasant experience, right? We get to learn and see so much about different cultures and enrich our lives. It is definitely one of my favorite activities in life!

However, traveling and volunteering is even more enriching in my perspective. It allows us to dive even deeper into another culture and also give back a little of our energy and resources to places where many times most people still struggle to have the basics in life.

It has been my first volunteering trip ever and probably one of many more to come!

The area destined to the planting of an agro forest by the organisation as a way of bringing more biodiversity to the local natural environment with predominance of rice fields cultivation (a mono culture). Source: The author’s personal files.

The selection of the seedlings that would be planted by us in the recently created agro forest. Source: The author’s personal archive.

Bali is a beautiful island located in the South of the Indonesian territory, and very close to Australia. That explains the high number of Australian citizens living or visiting this country. Actually, you find people from everywhere in this island attracted by its fantastic weather and gorgeous beaches. Not to mention the spiritual appeal of the place with its majority of Hindu practitioners inside a country of Islamic majority.

I’ve always dreamed of volunteering somewhere around the world. Living in Australia facilitated this dream to come true, once the financial resources (and the more favorable currency) were more abundant for me, as well as the proximity with unexplored fascinating destinations.

Back in Brazil I volunteered a couple times but more like delivering workshops to the community. Both in photography and in sustainable constructions. Because I love those topics. Or even already in Australia, as a refugee tutor. Another very enriching experience.

Recently, after deciding leaving Australia for spending a period of time with my family in Brazil, I decided to have some time in Bali as a volunteer, as a stepping stone. The program involved performing Environmental Conservation practices and interaction with the local community. Practices such as implementing permaculture projects to private owners, hotels and the local community.

Collaborating with the creation of a ‘banana pit’ to treat the ‘black water’ (sewage from the toilets) of a local hotel. Using the organic material from the filtered sewage water to grow banana trees. Source: The author’s personal archive.

The new centre built by the organisation located close to a recently certified organic cacao farm, creating local opportunities of employment. The new building also use some low impact construction techniques such as a bamboo structure slab and recycled materials. Source: The author’s personal archive.

The new centre built by the organisation using recycled materials. The new centre will also be able to house more volunteers close to the farm. Source: The author’s personal archive.

Reflection

It’s been definitely one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve learnt so much, not only about Permaculture but also about the Indonesian and Balinese cultures. A fantastic time immersed in a different culture and understanding the world under a completely fresh perspective.

By the way, do you like the topic ‘Permaculture’? Check out one of our previous Blog posts about an interesting event, Renew Fest, related to permaculture that happens in New South Wales, Australia. We have been there in 2021.

The Balinese are very connected to nature and constantly reverence it through their frequent ceremonies. Spirituality takes a big part of the islanders’ lives. The ceremonies are closely connected to the natural events, such as the moon’s phases. Actually, the word ‘bali’ in Balinese means ‘warrior’. Perhaps, more in a sense of spiritual warrior. Bali is the only territory inside Indonesia that resisted to the Islam religion expansion over the country.

I would really recommend similar experience to anyone intending to live a more meaningful life. Traveling and, at the same time, volunteering can be a fulfilling experience that also gives back to the local community.

 

Residence where a ‘black water’ (sewage water) system was being built by the organisation reusing the naturally filtered water to irrigate the fruit garden. Source: The author’s personal archive.

The ‘black water’ (sewage water) system that was being built by the organisation reusing the naturally filtered water to irrigate the fruit garden. Source: The author’s personal archive.

The fruit garden irrigated by the reused ‘black water’ using gravity through the terrain slope. Source: The author’s personal archive.

Another local residence where we helped to build a waste water system which would reuse ‘grey water’ coming from the hand basins, passing through natural filters – the plantings on the right side, in all the toilets flushing. Source: The author’s personal archive.

Conclusion

Many times when we travel just as a regular tourist we end up contributing just to one part of the population on the top of the local social structure and not necessarily to the community as a whole. As a volunteer we have the chance to really give back to the layer of the society that gets the least from tourism, since the big developments and hospitality establishments are owned in the majority by foreigners, or by the wealthy locals.

Not to mention that the touristic experiences crafted by those enterprises are far from being culturally authentic in its majority. Nothing absolutely against it from my part, everyone is completely free to choose the types of experience they have in life.

Understand more about how tourism is highly impacting the island of Bali and its inhabitants watching the following video:

You can find similar volunteering  programs pretty much everywhere around the world. There are several international agencies specialized in this type of tourism that can help you pretty much with all the steps of the process. Look for a reliable program with good reviews, that’s important!

So, are you ready to depart and give? As in the words of the widely known Francis of Assissi:

For its is giving that we receive“. ♥

Me and the other volunteers of the program collecting heritage organic rice in the fields. Source: The author’s personal archive.

The heritage organic rice collected by us to be distributed in the community. Source: The author’s personal archive.

Me and another volunteer helping the locals to create some decoration for celebrations. Source: The author’s personal archive.

 

 

Cover image source:

https://thingstodoinbali.com/

 

 

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