A year after Bali’s first lockdown, and the subsequent decline of the island’s tourist economy, many on the island still struggle to make ends meet. It’s a reality that is difficult to face, that thousands of people remain jobless for over year.
These are people who never could have imagined being in a state of vulnerability; people who had stable jobs and good lives. The newly vulnerable, caught off-guard by an island’s dangerous dependency on a single industry.
Of course, Bali is, by nature, a community-driven island. The social structures of the banjars (village groups), the multi-generational family homes and the fact that many Balinese continue to have a family home to go back to; these factors were the safety net for many on the island.
On top of that, the many community-led organisations and charities stepped up to support, backed by generous Bali-loving folk from around the world to provide even the most basic of necessities.
This is precisely how Crisis Kitchen Bali began.
Starting by providing cooked meals to the surrounding community of the Churros Tropicana Café in Umalas, it quickly became apparent that people’s needs were far beyond a daily meal. Thus, the operation grew, and moving to a commercial kitchen (generously provided by Sangsaka Restaurant), more meals and food-care packages were being prepared. Now their team works 6 days a week to delivery a mixture of groceries and cooked meals around the island.
From 13 April 2020 to time of writing (25 March 2021), Crisis Kitchen Bali has distributed 75,808 ‘per person’ groceries and 54,950 cooked meals, amounting to a total of 974,682 meals.
But, it goes beyond just the food deliveries.
Through their daily rounds of going door-to-door, from boarding houses to villages, they have learned a lot about the who is in need. “The food we bring has become a means of communication”, shares Yudan Toro Saputro, part of the CKB team. Toro also lost his job during the pandemic and has thus dedicated his time to helping others, understanding the difficulties people face. The same goes for others on the team.
They find that the people they meet, by chance, simply by knocking on doors, did not know who to turn to for help. This is especially true for non-Balinese who live on the island, who are far from home with little to no support network. Often, it’s not just food people need: some have been thrown out of their boarding houses, others are in dire need of medical support. CKB connects such cases with other NGOs, but their work to identify those in need is crucial, revealing that there are many ‘unseen’ cases of vulnerable individuals and families out there.
Curbing dependency, empowering people
Crisis Kitchen Bali received generous support in 2020, hence why they were able to provide so many meals on a daily basis. But, a year later, donations are slower, and at the same time the team felt that supplying food continuously created an over-dependency.
So, whilst they continue to supply food on a daily basis, they have honed in on the truly vulnerable who have not received any support (from them or others). For others, they are encouraging and empowering them to create stable employment.
For example, they have created a rotation of work for people cooking / preparing the meals to be donated. They’ve invited people to work to create packaging, work administration, or distribution. However, they also try to help people to help themselves, providing ideas, options or resources to create self-employment. This (a) reduces dependency on CKB food supplies which can be diverted to other marginalised groups (b) gives people the confidence and means to provide for themselves again.
How you can help
Crisis Kitchen Bali is part of Bali NGO & Associates group and thus is working on holistic and collaborative methods to support marginalised communities in Bali. They are working to address both immediate and long-term needs of people, and they can do this with your help through direct donations: Go Fund Me page.
NOW! Bali is also donating to Crisis Kitchen Bali. Our latest publication TIMELESS Bali, a magazine purely focused on the culture, history and heritage of Bali, is for sale worldwide and with every purchase we donate 30% to Crisis Kitchen Bali. More info here.