Supporting the Bali Children Foundation

Supporting the Bali Children Foundation

One of our partners is the Bali Children Foundation (BCF). We just love the folks over there and all that they do. We work closely with BCF’s founder Margaret (Marg) Barry. Marg is an exceptional woman, who just continuously blows me away with all that she does.

She started BCF about 20 years ago, while she was running full-time her own clothing company and fashion business. She did this up to only a couple of years ago, when she shifted gears to dedicate all her efforts on BCF. Marg was living in Bali at the time of the Bali bombings in the 90s and witnessed first hand the way everyone pulled together as first responders and then in the rebuilding efforts. This collaborative effort was her inspiration for BCF.

Starting with just a handful of English classes, BCF has grown to cover 120 schools in almost 80 villages with a student reach of nearly 10,000. It’s expecting to reach twice that number in the next school year as BCF’s classes move from after school voluntary enrollment, to class delivery during the school day to all the students within many of the schools, and also expanding into the neighboring islands of Lombok and Lembongan.

This map gives an idea of where BCF is currently operating, although numbers have already grown dramatically since this map was last updated.

This map gives an idea of where BCF is currently operating, although numbers have already grown dramatically since this map was last updated.

I recently got to visit BCF in Bali. We spent a day on a site visit to Songan and then a day working in the office with the team. I felt it was important for me to see first hand just what the schools and facilities were like in order for Smart Cookies to fully deliver the best solutions for BCF. Know your client, right!? I was curious if no Internet also meant no smart phones and 3G connection or just that the schoolhouses weren’t wired. Before I went, I couldn’t quite grasp just how rural was rural and it really helped being there to see it for myself.

While it is exotic and breathtaking to drive into the caldera of Mt Batur, where the village of Songan is located, one can only imagine how it makes for the lives of those living in this village with regard to access to jobs and education.

While it is exotic and breathtaking to drive into the caldera of Mt Batur, where the village of Songan is located, one can only imagine how it makes for the lives of those living in this village with regard to access to jobs and education.

Classrooms are clean and well lit, but are basic and limited with regard to school supplies and teaching aides.

Classrooms are clean and well lit, but are basic and limited with regard to school supplies and teaching aides.

BCF classrooms are each equipped with a TV screen, which teachers use to deliver teaching materials. Students are encouraged to practice conversations in groups.

BCF classrooms are each equipped with a TV screen, which teachers use to deliver teaching materials. Students are encouraged to practice conversations in groups.

Hands-on experience - I got to work with the kids on some conversation by introducing myself and blow their minds a bit on the places I’ve lived and the languages I speak.

Hands-on experience - I got to work with the kids on some conversation by introducing myself and blow their minds a bit on the places I’ve lived and the languages I speak.

The children were all incredibly sweet and full of respect, all coming by to say their thank yous and good byes to us in the traditional Balinese manner.

The children were all incredibly sweet and full of respect, all coming by to say their thank yous and good byes to us in the traditional Balinese manner.

I spent the day after the site visit in the newly renovated BCF office, which used to be Marg’s factory space, spending time with almost all the different ‘departments’. Seeing where all the magic happens, so to speak, and how it all comes together for myself has been super helpful. It has made it so much easier to get right into the building of a new BCF website and also the implementation of a student management system and program evaluation software. Please stay tuned as we push the site out in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, why not consider supporting BCF by sponsoring our Co-Founder Simon Cariss as he participates in the Bali Hope Ultra Marathon (84K across Bali) coming up in end May.

...and we are live!

...and we are live!