Bali holds an exceptional place in my heart because I did my first solo travel to Bali years ago. The sights and sounds in Bali intrigued me and very soon, I found myself loving this place so much that I would visit this place time and time again. It’s one of those places where I felt genuinely welcomed and safe to visit. The Balinese are the most down-to-earth people who respect not only their gods but also the environment. If I were given a choice to build a second home, I would choose Bali. And I was hoping that one day I could help serve the Balinese community and finally, the day came when I had the opportunity to visit one of AccorHotels‘ education centre in Bedugul, Bali.
The Sanggar Yayasan Peduli Tunas Bangsa centre in Bedugul Bali is the second education centre opened by AccorHotels. It is a place for the less privileged children living in that region to help develop their skills. Professional teachers and volunteers from AccorHotels Bali – Lombok region taught them Basic English, computer skills, gardening, cooking, and other life skills. The Sanggar also provides character education through cultural preservation activities, such as Balinese dance, gamelan and Mekidung (singing Hindu-based songs).
Every Friday, staff from the various AccorHotels would travel up to Bedugul to teach them these useful skills. During my recent stay in Bali, I had the privilege to visit this education centre with AccorHotels team and the local media. In addition to that, I also had the opportunity to conduct an English lesson there as well as to interact with the local children.
The ride up from Seminyak to Bedugul was about 2 hours long, but I was glad that we made it up to the mountainous region of Bali where the air is cold and crisp. The cooler temperatures made it suitable for planting cool season crops like lettuce, broccoli and strawberries. As such, most of the Balinese living here are farmers who grow their crops and sell them to earn a living to feed their families. In fact, AccorHotels have been getting their vegetable and fruit supply from these farmers. Thus, the opening of the education centre is also AccorHotel’s way of contributing back to this local community of farmers in this region.
The Sanggar Yayasan Peduli Tunas Bangsa is housed in a 600-metre square building, and it is located in Candikuning Village in Bedugul Bali. The education is beautiful, and I never thought that it would look like so clean and well-constructed with modern facilities. They even have a lovely garden and a volleyball court in the front courtyard.
So when farmers are working in the fields, their children will be attending lifeskill and English classes which would enrich and improve their lives.
This centre is currently funded by A Tree For A Child Foundation, the social and environmental programme of AccorHotels Indonesia, which combines environmental protection and poverty alleviation through education, healthcare, nutrition and reforestation. You have probably seen one of these ‘A Tree For A Child’ donation boxes placed near the reception area at the various AccorHotels across the world. Every dollar that goes into the box would help to improve the lives of these children!
AccorHotels also award scholarships to selected children. The scholarship will pay for their school fees, books, stationery, and school uniforms. Scholarships are awarded to children from less privileged backgrounds, between six to eight years old, and will fund their education until they graduate from vocational schools or universities. After graduation, some of them started working at the various AccorHotels properties in Indonesia.
During our visit, the children wore their traditional Balinese costumes and put up a dance and song performance for us. They looked excited and eager to meet us. And it was a heart-warming performance by these children who showcased the skills they’ve learnt so far. Their ages range from 10 to 14 years old.
And there I was in the midst of teaching them how to sing this English song with actions. Some of these children were quite well-versed in English while others are still starting to pick up English.
I was waving frantically in the air because I was trying to communicate with them via hand signal! Body language is indeed an international language. With my basic Bahasa Indonesia language, I was able to conduct the class rather smoothly.
After teaching the children, I went to visit the farms managed by the local farmers living there. There were many plots of land used for planting various types of crops.
While we made our way back to the education centre, we met a parent whose child is studying at the education centre. We had a little chat with her, and out of the blue, she offered us to bring back some of the fresh vegetables which she has just harvested. I believe she was genuinely appreciative of the educational opportunities being provided for her child. It is indeed very heartening to witness the positive impact made by AccorHotels on the lives of these Balinese people.
This trip has allowed me to have a better understanding of how AccorHotels has been promoting positive hospitality and making a positive impact in this world with their community and environmental programmes under their Planet 21 mission. Their programmes don’t just stop at tackling carbon issues. They are also reaching out to the less priviledged and enriching communities with new forms of livelihoods and economic opportunities. This has led me to see that AccorHotels isn’t just a global hotel operator but a company with a heart for the society at large. Their efforts have also demonstrated their commitment to developing a sustainable environment for future generations.
Special thanks to AccorHotels for making this meaningful trip possible!