Riding waves of joy in Bali - Australia Network's Newsline

Uploaded by australianetworknews on 30.11.2010

KATIE HAMANN, REPORTER: The temple of Tana Lot.
For more than 500 years Balinese Hindus have gathered on this rocky shore to pay tribute
to the ocean.
When surfers discovered Bali in the late 60s they brought with them a different kind of
devotion to these waters and spawned an industry which still drives the island's tourist economy.
More than two million tourists flock here each year to get a slice of the action.
KATIE HAMANN: But life is not a beach for everyone, says the co-founder of Bali's Soul
Surf Project.
HERI SUTAWAN, FOUNDER, SOUL SURF PROJECT: At the orphanage we found out that some of
the kids never been to the beach at all in their lives.
KATIE HAMANN: Established three years ago, the Soul Surf project offers disadvantaged
Indonesian children the chance to connect with the ocean in a very unique way.
Over four weeks, children learn how to take care of Bali's fragile marine environment
and how to harness its forces for fun.
Lessons begin in the classroom, where students learn about environmental management and surf
Then it's a cleanup session on the beach. Where, amidst the usual clutter ugly surprises
sometimes await.
Surf instructor Ketut Widi Artawan leads this treacherous adventure. He says this needle
has probably been re-used several times and could contain the HIV virus.
The Soul Surf philosophy is built upon the idea that by experiencing nature children
will learn to appreciate it more, while leaving their other troubles behind.
KETUT WIDI ARTAWAN, SURF INSTRUCTOR: You don't think anything else in the world, you just
focusing on one thing, like trying to catch like the wave and feeling like you free and
like you're flying, you know.
For 12 year old Yati, a morning on the waves means challenging traditional gender roles.
For the children who live at the Kasih Peduli Anak orphanage, a day at the beach is a welcome
taste of freedom. From otherwise institutionalised lives.
Many of these young people were plucked from the street by the home's founder Putu Etiartini.
Leaving behind a vulnerable existence on the streets of Bali.
Not everyone gets a share of the tourist dollars that flow through Bali. Poverty on the island
is growing and many parents resort to desperate measures to give their children an education.
It's estimated that as many as half a million children are living in orphanages across Indonesia;
one of the highest rates in the world.
But more than 90 per cent of these young people have at least one parent still alive.
Dominic was sent to live if Bali from the eastern island of Sumba when he was just 13
years old.
His father died when he was a young boy, leaving his mother to care for him and six siblings.
DOMINIQUE DUU BELLA (translated): It's really difficult to talk about my life before. In
Sumba life was a constant struggle. Sometimes we found it hard just to find food.
KATIE HAMANN: Dominique is one of Soul Surf's most promising graduates. He now works with
the project as a trainer and plans to go to university when he finishes high school next
Unless his surfing takes him to new heights.
Whether or not these young people become champion surfers, the Soul Surf project is giving them
the skills to break into Bali's lucrative surf industry.
And perhaps a chance at preserving this island paradise for generations of surfers to come.