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The following describes how in the summer of 2006 myself and others began to donate our time, effort and money to others in Bali. It all started with a vacation. From what I had read, I expected the island of Bali to be poor, but I was not expecting it to be as drastic as it was. Upon arriving, I saw a country trying to develop a better life for its people primarily by utilizing its natural beauty for tourism. Unfortunately, this effort appeared to be stuck in a cycle of bare existence from which the people could not break free. This troubled me...
While enjoying some local libations with my friend, we began to contemplate what we could do personally to make a difference. After doing some research in Bali, we discovered that a modest contribution, a fraction of our overall vacation costs, could send a student to college for an entire year. Thus we formulated the idea of providing college scholarships to as many of the capable and deserving people of Bali as we could, using our own money. We truly believe that education is the gateway to wider opportunities and also to a higher standard of living; and this eventually lead to the founding of the Education for the World organization.
Often people do nothing but complain about poor conditions and poverty and how the government or someone else should do something. We decided we must take action ourselves, and do it now. We believe that by providing willing and eager students access to higher education that they otherwise could not afford, we can offer true economic opportunity, help them to overcome adversities, and improve the quality of life one person at a time. We also feel that by providing these individuals with an opportunity of their own, they can in turn create an opportunity for others; thus creating a happier, more fulfilling and more peaceful existence for all.
The process started simple enough. We decided to focus on providing educational opportunities specifically for females. Because of their strong family and community bonds, higher education can be a benefit not only to these girls, but also their family and entire community. We found two firstborn daughters who were both working and supplying their families with the money they needed to survive. Both girls worked hard earning about 500,000 Rupiah per month and were eager to better themselves. To allow the girls the necessary time to focus on their education while still providing for their families, we decided to supplement their income to offset the lost wages of around $50 per month. Additionally, we provided all the materials required for their college, including tuition, computers and other items. Step one complete. Bali had two new college students!
At the time of this writing, the first year of college is coming to a close. In less than one year, my idea has grown from two students and two sponsors into an official nonprofit organization with four board members, multiple sponsors, a local manager, and five students from five different regions of Bali enrolled in three different schools. With management from both Bali and the United States, we are looking forward to the future development for our organization, the students, Bali and beyond. If the current rate of progress can be sustained, eventually we could change the world.
Our hope is that by providing the educational opportunity and the associated benefits, these students will break the cycle of mere subsistence by first getting better jobs and wages for themselves and then helping other members of their families and villages to do the same. By improving their own status, they can then help provide others with the financial support for continued education. It is a fairly simple concept that if each person helps one or more people, the effort becomes self-sustaining, and in the end, everyone benefits. My dream is that this effort becomes the single water drop that ripples across the world...
Founder, Education for the World, Inc. Michael Ballinger
|Our goal is to promote compassion, respect, cultural understanding, and peace by providing educational opportunities around the world... www.eftw.org|