Songan, June Mission Project
In June of 2021, a new collaborative team was successfully brought to life between Bali Children's Foundation (BCF), Artist Rik Lee and To My Daughter (TMD).
Bali Children Foundation (BCF) helps thousands of children to complete school, to find employment, and to improve their lives and the life of their community. With the mission to improve the education standards for children living in disadvantaged regions of Bali and nearby islands, so that they can achieve better incomes for themselves, their families and broader communities.
Artist Rik Lee an exceptional illustrationist, creating artwork including Illustrations, graphics and textile designs. He’s worked with a wide diverse range of clients such as American Express, Virgin Australia, Ray Ban, Air New Zealand, Myers, Stussy, Mister Simple, Little White Lies, Nylon and Vice. Rik Lee has also held shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Bali, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.
And Us, To My Daughter (TMD). A jewelry company that focuses on creating sentimental pieces while giving back to young girls across Indonesia, by sponsoring them through education, support and exposure programs.
Together, we set out with the unified vision of educating disadvantaged children through Art and Literacy while renovating schools in rural Bali.
At the base of the famous Mount Batur Volcano sits the quiet and friendly village of Songan. While there’s a couple of schools in the area, the Library at SDN 6 (Songan Primary School) was in desperately poor conditions, effectively a junk room, rarely visited by the students and the books offered are mostly out-of-date textbooks.
BCF, as they do so well, were able to secure funding to kick start the project connecting our col- laborative team to SDN 6 for the renovation, providing a fresh carpet area, new books, interactive materials and even a state of the art smart TV!
Margaret Barry explains that the Library upgrade provides an equipped learning space for read- ing, writing and numbers, and a child-friendly space for Reading to learn and Reading for fun, ‘Learn to Read - Read to Learn’.
From our team, we had five TMD members join the trip, including our special TMD teachers, Flora and Hana!
Teaching to explore confidence in greetings and discussions, Flora and Hana bring a fresh atmo- sphere to their lessons through creativity and inclusivity. Hana stands by the words “you learn the most, when you enjoy the process”, thus their constant integration of learning with interactive games and hands-on activities to reach their learning objectives. Their way of teaching children allows them to gain motivation and self-confidence by encouraging students to sing, dance, speak up and ask questions. The day began with an innovative active English class, where the young girls from Songan Primary School were invited along to participate in the class held by Flora and Hana.
“It was such a great experience to see their enthusiasm when participating in our learning activities. They were eager to learn despite their difficult situations being from disadvantaged backgrounds, living far distances from school and the lack of learning facilities available to them,” says Flora.
Following the active literacy class, the children were taught coloring techniques and the importance of patience in the second lesson of the day.. Art class!
They were given coloring pages to replicate the art pieces being painted on their school library walls.
Once they were finished, everybody had a lunch break with enough time for the kids to play and interact with each other!
The final activity on the children's lists was to finally participate in painting the murals. Artist Rik Lee was able to create a beautiful collection of unique designs, illustrating the beautiful location of the school. Albeit in a rural location, the school is located by the volcanic crater lake, beneath twin volcanoes and surrounded by stunning diverse landscapes of forests and farmed fields.
“I hoped to have captured these elements in the murals. The art was designed to be minimal and simple so that the school kids could join in and help me paint. It was important for me to include the kids so that they were involved in the beautification of their school. I hope that gives a sense of belonging. Not to mention, painting murals is fun!” explained Rik lee.
Margaret Barry explains how BCF is excited to work with artists like Rik as it improves the standard of the artwork in the libraries. Furthermore, it increases students' understanding of how their own talents can benefit others and have potential commercial value. “A conversation about art and its commercial, as well as cultural value, is key for Bali. So many people have talent but do not realize its value in the community and the commercial world. Balinese children are coming from a position of strength when they draw. Exposing them to wider influences is a wonderful way to develop their talent.”
She also explains how asking the older children to assist as a part of their community responsibility is key in fostering the process of helping others.
Rik recalls that it didn’t take long for the children to become confident and begin playing around. “Once the paints came out they were ready to get busy! There were a lot of happy, smiling faces so I think they enjoyed themselves. I hope that they feel pride in their work - next time they're in school, they'll be surrounded by art that they made."
The beautiful and rewarding feeling of the fresh library space gave everybody involved a sense of fulfillment. Perfectly said by Rik, "It was a rewarding, positive day. I'm certain that everyone walked away feeling good."
He also added that they ended a great day perfectly, as on the way home they found a coffee shop and enjoyed banana pancakes with an incredible volcano view on our way home.
To summarise,the renovation of the Songan Primary School Library was a complete success! This project created so much positivity for the children and locals of Songan. We hope that through this experience, the children learn to have fun while fostering the process of helping others, noticing the importance of their talents whether creative or not, and treasuring the opportunity of learning and growing their skills.
We are eagerly looking forward to the future of this collaborative team, and for more mission trips to come!
Special thanks to BCF, Rik Lee, to Songan Primary Schools teachers, the lovely children, and all other collaborators.
Our mission wouldn't be possible without you! Thank you for supporting To My Daughter (TMD) and our beautiful mission!