Volunteer Blog: Alix’s heartbreaking volunteer experience in Bali

In July, lovely French girl Alix flew out to Bali to take part in our Outreach program project. She was nervous and apprehensive having never done any solo travel of this sort before. She genuinely seems to have had the experience of a lifetime!! She has sent us 6 pages of blog to translate,which genuinely have the VV team in tears reading about the heartbreaking things she witnessed, but also the way that this experience has affected her.

She said: ‘Three weeks flew by and the verdict is: something has happened, I don’t really know what exactly but I have never felt so calm and I have learnt a lot about myself. I expected a lot from this journey but it gave me even more than I expected, 1000 times more than I could have even imagined. It is experiences like this that we never forget, and it will always be a beautiful story to tell.’

One story in particular from her journey really stood out for us. The story is heartbreaking and happy at the same time, and above all really pinpoints why voluntary aid is so desperately needed in Bali, as well as the bravery and dedication of the charity who we work with for our projects. You will be shocked, disgusted, awed, inspired….. here it is:

‘My favourite family and story of my stay are and will always be the story of Made Coconut. Robert, CEO of the charity organisation in Bali, started this by calling him coconut man. That still makes me smile today even if the reason for the nickname is far from amusing.
Made was 26 years old before he fell about 16 metres from a palm tree.

His family really needed some money, and he had decided to try to sell coconuts from the garden. 26 years old! It’s such a young age, you still have your entire life ahead of you.

Made had a wife and a son, a son who he could no longer take care of after this tragic accident.
You need to know that over there in Indonesia, impoverished families are not looked after in terms of medical care. No money = no care, not even the minimum. In fact, the hospital is associated more with death than it is with healthcare. With this knowledge you can guess that Made had not been well taken care of since his accident 7 years ago.
Our charity had been contacted several times and requested to help him. But each time, Made refused to go to the hospital. It was not until the moment that he felt himself dying that he agreed to follow us to the hospital.

The first time that I saw him, Robert and Sarah were there. And thank goodness they were because I was so scared.
Made had not moved for 6 and a half years from the little box that served as his bedroom, and he was covered in horrific injuries which had not healed for months and months. He could not really move. He lay on one side and his only method of going to the bathroom was to go where he was. He had lost all his muscles, in particular his legs since he could not use them. He did not even have the ability to sit up, not even with help.

Sarah approached him to examine him closer (in England she had worked with children in the hospital). She cleaned his open wounds, and tried to move his legs therapeutically. When I saw that he could still bend them, I burst into tears. Not so much out of sadness as out of hope that he may still have the chance to use his legs in the future.

The diagnosis was unquestionable, we had to get him to hospital and quickly. Of course, to convince him and his family, we had to explain everything as clearly as possible. Lucky has thus been a huge help in these adventures. He is a native Indonesian who speaks perfect English, and therefore vital as communication such as this is so much easier.
We transported Made to the car and rushed to the closest hospital, but they would not take him. Why? Because he is poor and consequently, there is no profit to be made for them. Pathetic. The doctor who we spoke to was indescribably arrogant with a snobbish and scornful attitude. A real pig!
So we got back on the road and traveled to another hospital  which was 2 and a half hours away. There too, they would not take him, but they did at least thoroughly clean his injuries. The other hospital would not even touch him…
By this point it was 1.30am and we still could not find anywhere to take Made. At this moment, Sarah decided that both Made and his wife would come to stay at her house until they could find a hospital to accept him.
Very few people would have accepted let alone offered what Sarah did. At least, she said, they would be safe. Made stayed at Sarah’s house for 4 days before we managed to place him at BIMC, a private hospital who agreed to take him in for two nights, just to teach his wife how to take care of him medically speaking.

This was a real victory because when we returned to take him back to his house, the change was breathtaking! He had colour in his cheeks, and he was smiling. We could hardly believe the change. It felt amazing and I was absolutely delighted with the result.’


Stories like these are shocking to read, and sadly not at all out of the ordinary in countries like Bali. If you would like to know more about our volunteer projects and how you can help, please visit www.volunteervacations.co.uk