Imagine living your life dependent on foreign tourism for food, money and shelter. Everything you have comes from the taxi you drive or the hotel you operate, and one day all that is stripped away from you by a terrorist attack.
For the people of Bali, Indonesia, that was reality. Since the bombing of a popular nightclub in October 2002, the citizens of Bali and surrounding areas have struggled to get by without the money that had been generated by a booming tourist industry.
Recently, GCC geography Professor Darren Leaver established a relief fund for these Balinese individuals.
Collecting money from GCC students as well as a private organization, Leaver raised $1,415 in donations, which was given to individuals in Bali by Leaver and two former GCC students in late September.
Leaver first contacted participants from the 2000 GCC Study Abroad Program to Bali around August, asking them for donations of $25. After receiving nearly $600 from students, Leaver asked local companies and organizations for matching funds.
In late September, Leaver and two former GCC students flew to Bali to deliver the funds. The group visited the hotels, taxi drivers, fisherman and tour guides who worked with the Study Abroad Program in 2000, and presented them with the donations.
Each individual, which as a group accounted for over 200 people, received an average of $6, which represents at least two days pay in Bali.
“[The recipients] were so thankful not only for the money, but that the students remembered them and cared,” said Leaver. The Balinese people have not seen happy times since the attack in 2002.
On the night of Oct. 12, 2002, two bombs were detonated by Islamic extremists at crowded nightclubs in the tourist resort of Kgta, Bali. Besides the loss of life and injuries caused by the explosion, Bali suffered a drop in hotel occupancy from 70 percent of maximum occupancy to 10 percent within two weeks of the attack.
This was devastating to the Balinese population, which had relied on tourism for the majority of its income. According to Leaver, this is what inspired him to establish the relief fund.
“I understood that some aid was being administered to Kuta, but the other tourism areas that our students had visited in Bali were not receiving aid of any kind,” said Leaver. “The need of these people that had been so welcoming and gracious to our students is what inspired me to develop the relief fund.”
Leaver is uncertain whether the relief fund will be an ongoing program, but he seemed confident GCC students would return to Bali.
“Bali is one of the most fantastic places on earth to learn about other cultures, and GCC will make plans to visit again,” Leaver said.