By Penny Ellis, Founder of the Bali International Spa Academy
One of my personal goals when I established Bali BISA in 2006 was to give back to the Indonesian community which is now my adopted home. Ten years later, it is wonderful to reflect on how welcoming this community has been for our students who come from every corner of the globe for training, as well as to experience Bali’s unique culture. It has thus been fulfilling for my team and I to have over the years contributed to the improvement of the lives of numerous marginalized Indonesian women.
This is in large part due to my long-time partnership with the ROLE Foundation and its Women’s Skills Education (Bali WISE) program which provides free education for disadvantaged and at risk women. Often illiterate when they arrive, Bali WISE teaches them literacy in their first language, conversational English, basic life expertise and vocational skills so that they can earn a sustainable income.
When a Bali WISE student expresses an aptitude for working in a health-focused environment such as a spa or wellness centre, Bali BISA evaluates their suitability for our three month entry-level therapist training program. If they met our essential criteria, we take them on as students at no charge and with no obligations. It is one of the most valuable ways we give back to the community we live and operate in.
Several months ago, we happily accepted an ideal ROLE candidate, 18 year old Maria Angelina Sengu, from the island of Flores, one of the poorest regions in Eastern Indonesia. Her father passed away when she was three, and her mother managed to raise Angel and her three siblings through farming. However, her meagre farming income was insufficient to allow the very out-going Angel to pursue her dream of a career in hospitality. Determined never to give up, she researched scholarship opportunities and discovered the ROLE Foundation who approved her application along with several other young women from Flores in similar dire financial situations.
Angel evolved into a model BISA student, embracing with enthusiasm every aspect of her training, including Balinese, Swedish and warm stone massage; traditional body scrubs and wraps; international body treatments; nail treatments; waxing; facials; and Indonesian hair cream baths. She really polished her English working with so many international students, and even found the time to actively pursue her other ambition of learning to speak German.
She had been employed at Kari Bali Spa Jimbaran since graduation. but still hopes to one day work in Germany
MAKING MORE DREAMS COME TRUE
Inspired by Angel’s success, three other ROLE / Bali WISE students decided their future lay in the booming spa sector after Bali WISE’s three month introductory course about the hospitality industry. They too were readily accepted as BISA students in our three month training program which gave them a broad base of essential spa skills. Like Angel, they blossomed into confident young women and all three are now working at the prestigious J-Jireh Spa in Canggu, Bali. Tirta, Desi and Ayu all say their priority is to gain experience and confidence, plus assume financial responsibility for their families before they consider working overseas as so many Balinese now do.
THE BALI BISA – BALI WISE AGREEMENT WILL CONTINUE
We are all looking forward to helping other women escape the cycle of poverty to give their own families the same opportunities that these four women were fortunate enough to receive via our collaboration with the ROLE Foundation and Bali WISE.
For information about the ROLE Foundation, click here.