Closing the Distance: People of Bali

On The Frontline | Written By, Sachi Kondo |

In this photo essay, we share the small stories of everyday people in Bali unable to socially distance, dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak in their own way.

Not everyone has the luxury of working from home, there are those that must keep businesses open, risking exposure, in order to keep the wolves at the door. Some have experienced loss, others have made sacrifices, but all continue with spirit. As you read their little stories, do not feel guilt, nor pity, let their spirit give you warmth. Be grateful for your own circumstances, as social distancing is a privilege not everyone has.

Menny, 33, laundromat

PHOTOS BY SACHI KONDO

“We would normally work day and night, but ever since our customers have gone back to their home countries and people now prefer staying at home to minimise contact, we’re down to working 4 hours a day. At the end of the day, I am grateful I’m able to work even such small hours, when I know other people have lost their jobs. I’m one of the lucky ones who can still make ends meet by doing what I do.”

Anita, 38, street vendor

PHOTOS BY SACHI KONDO

“Management had to let me and a lot of staff go. I was unemployed for one month straight. My daughter who had stable employment in hospitality was also made redundant and is still unemployed. After a month of doing nothing, of course, our financial state worsened. With the money we had left, I decided to open this small business for the family to survive, but also to help me pass the time. I was done sitting around — I had to be proactive.”

Ketut, 46, restaurant owner

PHOTOS BY SACHI KONDO

“70% of our customers were foreign. Most of them have left the island now, leaving us with not much to do. I had to make the difficult decision of letting my staff go because they had so little work, but once things get better, they will come back and work again. For now, I decided to take over. I do everything myself.

We started ‘Keranjang Solidaritas’ where we leave baskets by the road filled with rice, sugar, coffee, instant noodles for anyone to take. Now we leave an empty basket too, because people started coming in with things to donate. Our customers and passers-by all want to contribute helping those in need.”

I Luh Citra, 45, kiosk and gas stop owner

PHOTOS BY SACHI KONDO

“Every day gets a little harder because now we have to cut our hours shorter. If we don’t, we get a warning by the pecalang. It has been so quiet ever since the outbreak but we are fortunate enough to be able to keep the warung open and going. If not, that’s our family income totally gone.”

Heni, 48, building supplies shop owner

PHOTOS BY SACHI KONDO

“Most big construction projects have been put to a halt, meaning they have stopped coming to us for supply. But there are still smaller house projects here and there. We’ve been getting a lot of people in villas buying materials to build hydroponics and other things for maintenance. So we’re lucky in that way. The most difficult part is juggling store work and house work. With the kids out of school, I have extra work to cook, help them study, and keep them entertained! I can’t even send them to do lessons since we’re not allowed to travel anywhere. After closing the shop around 6pm, I have to make sure they do their studies — I’m exhausted but I hope everything gets better soon.”

Made Rai, 43, warung owner

PHOTOS BY SACHI KONDO

“Everyone is affected, definitely. But we try our best to stay positive and run our day-to-day as normal as possible. Although business is quiet, it’s great to see the family together everyday. We pray every evening together, and have quality family time by 7pm, which was almost impossible before. Actually, after the lockdown rumours, more people are stocking rice and water gallons from us. We’re helping people in a way.”

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