COMPASSION: sister's wide open heart
THE BEAUTY OF BALI
by: Lyn Richardson, Australia
1978 saw the start of a life-long love affair. That was when my sister Barbara Marshall of Brisbane, Australia took her first trip to the beautiful island of Bali in the nation of Indonesia. In fact, it was the start of a family love affair. Our mother Evelyn was the first to follow Barbara, then our younger sister Billie did the same. I was a slow starter because young children and a lack of money made travel impossible until my darling sister Billie was killed in a car accident in 1986 and we decided to visit this place she loved so dearly with the money she had bequeathed us. Within twenty-four hours my husband Neil and our children Marshall (9) and Cara (7) and I were in love with Bali. Every chance we got we headed to this delightful island with its friendly, smiling people and for many years our mother travelled with us .
In the very early days of our travels we saw large numbers of children, sometimes as young as five or six, working in the streets trying to sell leather bands or trinkets to tourists. They were often still in the streets late at night, usually wearing mostly rags. Our mum began to sew dresses, shorts and t-shirts in sizes to fit young children to teenagers. We passed this clothing out to the street children and each time we went to Bali (as often as we could), Mum would sew at least sixty outfits for us to distribute. Our mum continued to sew for the street children even after she couldn’t go anymore and she continued until she had a stroke and entered a nursing home.
In addition to the outfits Mum made, we would collect good secondhand clothing for adults and children to take to some of the poor villages. Jeans were always a favourite and we could never get enough. At first it was all from our own wardrobes, but as time went on we collected from friends and bought from charity shops to increase the supply. As the years passed and I travelled more on mission to various places, it meant I couldn’t go to Bali as often. Barbara continued to take two or three trips a year to escape our colder months and on one of these trips she met a good friend of ours who was involved in helping an orphanage so she decided to visit one with her. Orphanages do not have government support and there is no social security, so Barbara, who is a nurse, came home with a burning passion to do something about this. At first, she and our sister-in-law Nola Marshall funded parties and treats for the children, which expanded to mattresses, towels, bedding and finally, more orphanages.
This became a far bigger venture than Barb could continue to fund on her own as there were now five orphanages with which she was involved, so she began to raffle jewelry that she purchased in Bali amongst the nurses where she worked. She started a bank account with that money for the orphanages. Often, these orphanages can’t even afford rice for the next month, so with the money she collects, Barb goes to a large food warehouse to stock up on things like rice, oil, dried fish and anything else. She also gives money to another organization that looks after all of the medical needs of the orphans in Bali and she goes to a pharmacy warehouse to buy health supplies for them.
Barb also heard about a mother and baby clinic in Ubud called Bumi Sehat, which is run by a wonderful American midwife named Robyn but which didn’t have the money for bedding that women need to give birth. The women who come to this clinic are from very poor villages and could be in serious trouble if complications occurred during birthing. Although they were being given the best care possible, facilities were still limited, so Barb opened her heart again and began to raise money for this, too.
She is so effective at raising money and acquiring donations that it is impossible for Barb to carry it all herself because of weight restrictions on the airlines, so any friend who happens to be going on holiday packs lighter and carries baby clothes instead, which Barb picks up and delivers on her next trip. We have had the opportunity to be a part of this also and it is very satisfying to visit the clinic and see the joy on the mothers’ faces as they are handed a hamper full of clothes and rugs for the baby and even clothes for any older children to take home with them. They’re also provided vitamins to take for breastfeeding and formula for the baby.
My sister is an incredible woman with a heart so much bigger than herself who pursues each thing she does with total commitment and integrity. I am so proud of her and admire her dedication to this island of Bali and the people and animals who live there. It is lovely to be able to give back on this place where we have all received so much joy and pleasure over the years. We look forward to many more years yet to give back even more.