The Beat is helping to promote an event initiated by DJs Roger and Flex at Lost City next week, Friday, February 21, to raise funds and awareness of a charity group called Bali Street Mums and Kids Project (BSMK) or Ibu-Ibu on Facebook. The project is doing great things for these street kids and mums, the ones you have seen for years begging for money at the traffic lights around town, kids and mums that needed a helping hand and have found one with BSMK. We thought it would be an opportune moment to find out more about the group and founder Kim Farr. What I quickly realised was that Kim is quite an inspiration. Read on to get the full and passionate story.
So where are you from and how old are you, Kim?
Kim Farr: I am 45 and from New Zealand.
Tell me about the charity and how you got involved.
I have two sons and my younger son and I came to live in Bali five years ago, after selling my business in New Zealand. I started volunteering at a charity for street kids, working with mums and street kids who were begging on Sunset Road and around Kuta. I taught the mums how to sew and make crafts, providing the street mums with an income so that they did not need to take their children back to the streets to beg. I also worked in the rubbish dump villages with mothers who were so impoverished they would scavenge through piles of fresh rubbish searching for recyclables to sell. They could not feed their children nor pay for schooling. I taught them how to make drinking glasses cut from recycled bottles and they now have a very successful community enterprise, empowering all the mothers who were once trash picking. And all their children now go to school!
What motivated you to get involved in this charity work in the first place?
I watched a presentation given about the street kids at the Green School then I heard some of the kids’ stories and could not sleep. I wanted to help empower the mothers so as they would not need to take the kids back to the streets to beg again. I also had experience teaching art therapy to children who had been abused back in NZ.
So how did you get involved in your own charity?
After two years the charity where I was volunteering underwent a management change. Funds disappeared and the mums and children were not being treated well. So I decided to start my own foundation….Bali Street Mums and Kids Project. I hired a wonderful Indonesian social worker and child psychologist. We found a house on the edge of the slum area around the Iman Bonjol area of Denpasar, which serves as a refuge, drop-in centre and a place for the children to heal. We have children who have been begging for years on the streets, sold to bosses, abused and molested.
There are lots of stories around saying that many of the kids begging on the streets are dropped off each morning and picked up at night by unscrupulous people trying to make money out of it. Have you seen any reality of that first hand?
No, in general they are taken to the streets by their mothers. And their mothers were taken to beg as children also. They are from the mountain villages where there is no water, no schools, no hospitals and no roads. They have very little way of earning an income. So for many years generations of mums and children have come to the urban areas and end up on Sunset Road or around Kuta to beg and take the money back to support their families.
And what happens at the project’s safe house?
To begin with we provide a “breakfast in the slums” for approx. 40 children each morning. Children who would normally only eat one bowl of rice per day. We taught four of the street mums to cook and we pay them an income to cook healthy breakfasts and meals every day. The other mothers make jewellery and dolls which provides them with an income. We also take all the children to a bridging school. These are children who have been begging for years – some up to 12 years every night on the streets. The bridging school provides them with intensive schooling and gives them the certificate they need in order to attend a formal school.
How many children stay at the centre?
We have 20 children living at our safe house. Children such as Subur, children who have been sexually assaulted and are Hiv +. The safe house is also a drop-in centre for the rest of the children and a study centre as well as where the mothers meet to make their crafts.
Some of the kids, like Subur, who is mentioned above, have had a very hard time of it.
Subur was brought up begging and at the age of nine told his parents he did not want to beg anymore. He was humiliated and so they sold him to a “boss” who put him to work carrying bricks. He was nine and working 10 hours a day in the hot sun and the boss was paying the parents 40,000 rupiah a day.
Are there orphans too? Or the mums stay somewhere else?
No orphans. We have six mothers living at the safe house too. And 14 mothers who come each day with their babies and children. Our social worker and child psychologist live at the safe house and make sure the children receive medical needs, schooling, nutrition and counseling. Some days we have 50 children at the house.
And how is that bridging school? Is it a government or private school?
It’s sort of private. There are only two in Bali and it costs Rp350,000 per child each month plus uniforms and transport, food, etc. It means the kids can become part of the system and once they complete bridging school, no matter what age, they can then go to formal school. We have a story of Eka. Eka was begging for 12 years on Sunset Rd. We managed to get him into bridging school 18 months ago. He eventually came second in the Indonesian National Exams! This is a huge achievement for a street kid and the Indonesian Department of Education visited us and pledged to sponsor 10 more children through the bridging school. We just have to cover the transport and meals for those 10 children.
Well, that’s awesome. How is the condition of the children generally?
When they first come in they are suffering malnutrition, exhaustion, stress etc. We see them change, dark rings fading from around their eyes, learning to play and let go, learning to use a pencil for the first time. Smiling and putting on weight. As I said, we have three children who are HIV +. And we need to take them to the hospital every month for care and medication.
Where does your funding come from till now?
Donations and then we must find sponsors for each child who goes to the bridging school. We have businesses in Bali that help us; The Practice Yoga, Cosmos Oasis, Amo Spa, Biku, Samasti Yoga and Green School. Also Private donors from Australia and New Zealand.
How can people get involved or send donations?
Yes, please send donations to our paypal. email@example.com. We also need volunteers to help with schooling or activities. Soccer, dancing or outings, etc. We can be contacted through the same email address.
The Lost City event is a celebration of all things hip hop, with a number of top DJs including Dodger and Flex. It is being held on Friday February 21, 2020. Be there by 11pm and proceeds go to Bali Street Mums and Kids Project. Dig deep, give generously.
And here is a track from Aldous Harding – Small Bones of Courage.