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With support, Bali bombing survivors move on

Moving on: Rencini (far right) observes her children at home in Denpasar. She is among several widows whose husbands died in the 2002 bombings. Several individuals and humanitarian organisations from many countries have lent support to survivors and victims’ families. Photo by Anggara Mahendra/JP

Publication Date : 12-10-2012


Ten years after the Bali bombing, with the aid of a number of humanitarian foundations, survivors and relatives stand on their feet again.

Hearing impairment, internal injuries and psychological trauma had prevented Suyanto from returning to work for two years after the bomb exploded at Sari Club, his former workplace.

During recovery, the 49-year-old former bartender was unable to imagine that he would be able to see either of his two children graduate from university.

However, this March, he proudly attended the graduation of his son Budi Setiawan, 22, who majored in law at Warmadewa University in Denpasar.

“The days that followed the explosion that injured my dad, I kept reflecting whether I could continue studying, as my parents had to struggle even for the family’s daily meals,” said Budi.

Budi is one of five children of the survivors who, since 2009, graduated from university. As of today, 47 children, who lost one or both parents or have a permanently injured parent caused by the bombings, have become the recipients of the Kuta International Disaster Scholarship (KIDS) fund administered by the Humanitarian Mother Earth Foundation, also known as Yayasan Kemanusiaan Ibu Pertiwi (YKIP) since 2003.

The scholarship “covered not only my school tuition but also every cent of my photocopying expenses,” said Budi, currently a bank teller, who nurtures a bigger dream of becoming a prosecutor. He received a total of 35 million rupiah (US$3,652) of scholarship funds for his university study alone.

The Annika Linden Foundation was one of the earliest donors to the YKIP’s scholarships. Others include the Singapore Rugby team, the Hong Kong Rugby Bali Fund, the Tanglin Trust School, Centrelink, the Rotary Club of Busselton Geographe Bay, Casaluna Ubud and numerous individual contributors.

Thanks to the scholarship, said Rucina Ballinger, the former CEO of YKIP, the children believe they can be whatever they want in the world. “I’ve seen the children year-after-year, grow in confidence,” added Ballinger, now the consultant for the Annika Linden Foundation, soon to be relaunched as the Inspirasia Foundation. Mark Weingard founded the foundation — which also has programmes in Thailand and India — named after his fiancée who died in the blast.

Another foundation established after the bombings is the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage, named after a young Australian woman who died in the blast. The orphanage’s initiator, British-born Alison Chester said, “[even] out of tragedy, good things can happen.”

The orphanage, established in 2005, is now home to 58 local children. It aims to help local youngsters reach university and provide training until they turn 18. Chester described O’Shea as “selfless” as she told hospital staff to help other victims when she was treated at the Sanglah Hospital.

Australian philanthropist David Webb and wife Moira have encouraged financial independence among the widows left behind. Through their support, the small sewing business entity Adopta Co-Op, was born in 2003.

For the first three years, five widows were facilitated with a monthly start-up fund of 300,000 rupiah per person and five sewing machines, and marketing assistance.

“Today, despite an end to funding assistance, we can continue independently. Our customers are mostly Australians,” said the coordinator of Adopta Co-Op Ni Luh Erniati, with pride. She also chairs the Paguyuban Isana Dewata for the wives, husbands and children of Bali bombing victims.

“I have yet to forgive the bombers for taking away my husband. Nonetheless, I try to keep looking forward, praying that God gives me the perseverance to provide my sons with a better future. Looking at the bright side, only after my husband was gone was I able to ride my own motorcycle, decide like a man, make more friends and meet the strangers who order our sewing products,” Erniati said, with a smile.

Erniati’s two sons, the youngest a sixth grader and the oldest taking a three-year diploma in health analysis, both children are also recipients of the KIDS scholarship scheme. She added that 10 survivors have yet to recover from their injuries.

“We really hope the government is willing to ease our burden in terms of healthcare by providing health insurance,” said Erniati.

In the months following the bomb blast, the government provided cash assistance for the widows worth 5 million rupiah each, and 15 million rupiah worth of child support, disbursement of which required the child to complete senior high school first.

“We remain grateful ... We simply hope the government can be more supportive in improving the health condition of our fellow survivors,” said Erniati.

The Bali bombing of Oct 12, 2002, injured 209 people and took 202 lives, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 24 Britons. The following bomb blast in 2005 killed 20 people and injured 129 more.


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