"A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a Child" ~ Anonymous
"It’s really a wonderful little town and the perfect place to meet other volunteers and travelers. One of the things that stood out for me about Slukat was their strong local support network for volunteers, something I’ve learned makes a huge difference in enriching your experience here."
Volunteer Period: 5th May - 14th July 2011
24 hours. 3 flights. 2 screaming babies. If it wasn’t bad enough that I was an anxious flyer, the sleep deprivation had sent me into a whirlwind of doubt as I made a mental list on my final flight of all the reasons why I should probably just turn around and go home. Firstly, it seemed I managed to forget to pack almost everything- a towel, bikinis, mosquito repellent, shower gel, sunscreen…..so I figured that if I’m not even mildly capable of packing for 3 months of volunteering, there is no way I’m going to be able to do this. What was I thinking?!
As I stepped off the plane onto Balinese soil my worries started to dissipate. There’s something about the combination of the intense heat and the incense-infused sea breeze that hits you instantly with a strange sensation. The feeling that adventure awaits. So I pulled myself together and weaved my way through the airport towards the exit sign. As I approached the welcoming point, my gaze rested on two eagerly smiling faces holding a sign with my name on it. I became more relaxed as the two girls bounced towards me with excitement. Their names were Nopi and Gung Ade, and together with Wayn the driver, we slowly made our way through the chaotic traffic of Denpasar towards Keramas village, home to Slukat Learning Centre.
We arrived at Slukat at night so it was impossible for me to properly absorb my new surroundings. Although the exotic yellow moonlighting gave me some clues as to what I would expect in the morning. With help from Nopi and Gung Ade, I hauled my luggage into the volunteer house where I met my new roommates and fellow volunteers, Lina and Radhika. I was ready to collapse from exhaustion and imminently fell into a 16 -hour slumber.
I’ll never forget waking up that first morning at Slukat and realizing just how incredibly lucky I was. I stepped outside into the courtyard and looked around at the picture perfect landscape, the fields of rice paddies that led my gaze towards the ocean. This was going to be my home for the next few months! As I walked around I tried to take in as much as I could- all the corners flowered with offerings to the Gods, the numerous different fruit trees and the wonderful organic garden where I feasted my eyes on rows of ripe eggplant, long beans and corn. Slukat was bursting with life and I was filled with awe.
Later that day, I headed up with the other volunteers to Ubud for an induction with Jose and Novia, the organization’s two coordinators. While Keramas village is rural, tranquil and very much the essence of traditional Balinese culture, Ubud is fantastically multi-cultured, filled with trendy cafes and yoga-ites bustling about. It’s really a wonderful little town and the perfect place to meet other volunteers and travelers. The induction was a casual meeting over coffee where we discussed for hours all aspects of a volunteer’s life in Bali from teaching the kids to weekend explorations. One of the things that stood out for me about Slukat was their strong local support network for volunteers, something I’ve learned makes a huge difference in enriching your experience here. I felt safe and I knew that if I ever had any problems that there were people I could turn to for help.
I spent the night in a Balinese family’s homestay with Lina and Radhika in Ubud. I kept thinking about how strangely comfortable I felt in these unknown surroundings. The Balinese are so warm and welcoming that they make the cultural transition seem so easy. At breakfast we devoured the most delicious banana pancakes and fruit salad. As the very last of my worries disappeared, I relaxed while joyfully watching the children playing around the courtyard. I couldn’t wait to start the adventure that awaited.”