Visitor report: Kimberley Waters

The tiles are cool. A stark comparison to the sweltering, humid stillness of the air outside.
I lower myself to the ground and quietly take in my surroundings, much further outside my comfort zone that I’ve ever been before.
It’s heartbreakingly basic.
Two rooms, a porch and an outdoor kitchen on a dirt floor.
With proper walls, a floor and a roof, this family is fortunate compared to most.
From the dubious comfort of a thin mattress on the ground an older man reaches for my hand.
He’d get up to greet me, but a recent stroke has left his body paralysed.
A proud man, the head of a household, robbed of his ability to work and provide for his family.
Starvation is mentioned, and I’m so confronted that I can’t make sense of the jumbled thoughts in my head.
In the heart of a Balinese slum, I experience the most humbling moment of my life.
I kneel beside this man, a privileged westerner having the time of her life on a holiday in Bali, and he softly asks me to pray for him.
He wants to work. He doesn’t want his family to starve. There’s no government assistance and prayer is his only option.
My heart shatters into a million pieces.
Choking back tears I pray for healing, that God would bless this man and his family and restore his health.
The whole time I’m grappling with guilt – I don’t deserve the comfortable life I was fortunate to be born into any more than this man and his family. Why me? Why them?
I join Akademi Kristus director Geoff Collins on a walk through the rest of the slum.
The land itself is picturesque and lush.
Worn paths lead to each family home, open dirt-floored structures built with easy-to-find materials.
There’s no electricity or running water.
When it rains, they get wet.
When it floods, they get wetter.
Goats wander around looking for food, and family members mill about chopping vegetables, holding babies, and boiling water over a fire.
A toddler sits out in the open in a bucket, having a bath.
Children run about playing, happy and carefree despite their poverty.
As Geoff chats and jokes in fluent Indonesian I watch on, questions circling in my mind.
How do you raise a family without electricity? Without walls? Without running water? Without proper beds? Without a washing machine? Without a car? Without doors that lock for safety?
Making do without. It’s not a concept I’m familiar with.
But these people survive.
At Akademi Kristus, we also want them to thrive.
I became a member of the AK project management team in 2016.
Having studied Indonesian at university, and with media skills that could be put to good use, it seemed like the perfect charity to get involved in.
I always believed in our mission – to foster hope and empower Indonesian communities through real relationships and the delivery of martial arts, education and creative arts.
But after spending times in those slums, and meeting the kids and the families we’re working with?
Our mission is now a part of me in a way that it wasn’t before.
These families don’t need my guilt, or even my sympathy. They need my action.
A short drive away from the slums (referred to as the kampung or local village), in a van loaded with kids we picked up on our walk, is the AK community hub.
A place where everyone is welcome, accepted, encouraged and offered opportunities to learn.
I have the pleasure of assisting Geoff’s wife Erma with an art class while Geoff is instructing a gruelling BJJ session on the mat nearby.
Back at the kampung a specialist educator arrives to spend time teaching AK’s students with disabilities.
These youth aren’t mobile and are therefore confined to their homes in the slum, often left alone without stimulation or care during the day while family members work.
Thrown in the deep end, it’s an exhausting but amazing afternoon.
That’s kind of how Geoff, Erma and their three wonderful daughters do everything.
All in, flat out, crazy, selfless, fun and full of love.
It’s inspirational to watch, and humbling to be part of.
With all my heart I believe the encouragement, leadership, self-worth, skills and confidence these kids gain from attending AK will one day empower them out of the cycle of poverty.
To me, that’s a mission worth supporting.