04 March 2016

Buffalo Q&A: Empowering the Next Generation with BaliWISE

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baliWISEPart of the R.O.L.E. (Rivers, Oceans, Lands, Ecology) Foundation, BaliWISE has supported the continued growth and empowerment of women in Bali, Indonesia since 2007. From hygiene to administration and even environmental sustainability training, the BaliWISE program offers women in disadvantaged situations the resources they need to begin their fulfilling, lifelong careers with a commitment to environmental protection. The Buffalo Tours team in Bali is proud to work hand-in-hand with BaliWISE interns as part of our commitment to local sustainability. We sat down with Odi, a BaliWISE graduate and Buffalo Tours intern, to chat about her experience.

First, where did you grow up, and what was it like?

I grew up in a small village five hours away from Flores. I went to a local school every day on foot with only basic education. Luckily, my parents were able to put me through school until I could gain a diploma in engineering. Some of my friends were not as lucky and had to drop out, and they all married at young ages.

There was no internet in my village, and my friends and I had to travel quite far if we wanted access internet.

When you were a child, what did you want to do as an adult? What was your “dream job”?

My dream job was to become a teacher. However, I wasn’t successful in passing the test for teaching school (pedagogy school), which is when I decided to study electrical engineering at a local academy.

Before BaliWISE, what were some of the things that held you back from achieving your goals?

As I couldn’t learn to be a teacher, I thought I could teach engineering; but there was no vacancies for me. In my village there is no work opportunities if I didn’t have experience, and since I live in small village, there was very little else I could do to become successful. If you want to get a good job, you would have to go to town.

I decided join BaliWISE after I heard my cousin’s story, who had also completed the BaliWISE and said it was the best opportunity for her to change her life. This was because they teach the students many skills – how to become hoteliers, administration clerks, or how to start simple small businesses. After I heard about it, I knew it would be an opportunity for me to make a big change.

I am originally from Kupang Flores, so I made the journey over to Bali. The next day I went to BaliWISE to see if there was still space for me, the following day I can accepted and enrolled!

BaliWISE training

How did you feel during the first few months of the BaliWISE program?

I remember my first day in BaliWISE felt very stressful, mostly because I have to attend full day classes from morning to evening, which I wasn’t used to. I remember feeling so tired the first day and scared if I made a mistake I would have to go home. I hadn’t yet met anyone else, so it felt very lonely.

But by day 3 in the dormitory, I got to know some of girls that had come from the same islands as me, but from different regions. From there, my days in BaliWISE got better every day simply because I felt comfortable with my new friends and could talk about lessons and daily tasks with them. So, I kept with it and finished my studies in 3 months – something I’m glad that I did.

They teach you quite a lot – from hygiene to cooking, basic administration, hospitality and how to care for the environment, and also entrepreneurship. It’s a very involved program that includes lots of things. Eventually I began working with Buffalo Tours shortly after graduating the program. I was lucky, because Buffalo Tours was the only company that would give me a chance. I currently work in our purchasing department assisting with data entry and management. Nowadays, I am interested in learning more about contracting. I feel like this is the beginning of my new career.

bali team

What’s the biggest difference from the person that you were before BaliWISE, and the person you are now?

Before BaliWISE, I couldn’t speak English at all or understand what people were talking about. After the program, I have learnt a bit of English and I understand when I hear people speaking. I believe that I am more confident, I have a job, I make my own money and I can look after myself now.

I think this proves that NGOs like BaliWISE are very helpful for those who are less fortunate and struggle to make big changes in their lives for lack of resources. I hope to spread what I know about the program to others who might benefit from it as well.

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