Meet Piter Panjaitan, a 2019-2020 Disaster Feedback Fellow who is working with Indonesians to overcome economic challenges and a string of disasters to build a better future.
Director, Bali Life Foundation
Who He Is:
Piter believes that capacity-building activities—such as education, training, and partnership programs—should be better adapted to suit local needs, geography, culture, and climate conditions. Piter directs Bali Life Foundation alongside his wife, Lyna. The foundation is focused on educational empowerment for underprivileged children and restoring hope, dignity, and purpose to families. Piter is proud of Bali Life’s work and their ability to respond to disasters—after the last Indonesia tsunami, they were able to help 2,000 people in partnership with GlobalGiving.
Q: Tell us about your organization and its work in Indonesia.
A: Bali Life Foundation is based in Bali, Indonesia, and we are here to give hope, dignity, and purpose to educational empowerment to eradicate poverty.
Q: Your mission is hard work. Why are you devoted to it as a Disaster Feedback Fellow?
A: We serve many people from underprivileged children to underprivileged women and families. What I saw in Bali is that children who are poor don’t have the chance to advance in terms of economic opportunities or their dreams.
One young person in our children’s home had a very difficult background. He was living on the street, and we found him near the airport and rescued him when he was very young. He had scabies and was really sick, so we took him into our residential care until he finished high school. Then we got him into college. He’s finished college and is now working as a surfing instructor. He has dreams of owning a surf school business. That’s very rewarding for me. We would love to be able to see more of this kind of success through our mission and vision. It shows that if you give children an opportunity, they will do better.
Q: What is one thing you wish more people knew about your work?
A: In Bali, Indonesia, a lot of people think it is paradise and don’t see the hard lives of the people. That is something we would love to convey—that everything is not so happy. There are a lot of people still living in poverty or walking 8 kilometers (5 miles) to find water. I would love to be able to share that with others to make them understand that there are still a lot of things to do to help people in Bali and in Indonesia overall.
Q: How has GlobalGiving made a difference for your organization?
A: Before we didn’t have an online platform to support our work. Since joining GlobalGiving, we’ve raised a lot of awareness about our foundation. What makes GlobalGiving different is that it allows us to open up new programs.
A few years ago, we had the Mount Agung eruptions, which displaced about 140,000 people. We hadn’t yet partnered with GlobalGiving, and then the Lombok earthquake struck, and the Palu earthquake and tsunami happened. GlobalGiving gave us a grant, and with that, we were able to help more than 2,000 people. We gave them water tanks, temporary housing shelters, and basic supplies—it was an emergency response to the disaster. After the first emergency response, we started working on the recovery response, which is also new for us. Our work with GlobalGiving opened up new programs to help more people in need. Without GlobalGiving, we wouldn’t be able to do this.
We were able to help more than 2,000 people. We gave them water tanks, temporary housing shelters, and basic supplies—it was an emergency response to the disaster.
Q: What is missing in the global response to disaster recovery?
A: We have different departments and programs in our foundation: residential care, a children’s home, and multiple centers for kids who live on the street. We also serve underprivileged women, underprivileged mothers, and mothers who live on the street. Now we offer a disaster relief network to support disaster victims. There are still many people who don’t understand these situations in Indonesia, and I think exposure is something that’s missing from the work that we do. We need to determine how we can expose these challenges and help people better understand our work.
Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your work?
A: The pandemic has shifted our focus. We are now working to help people who were affected by COVID-19 by distributing basic supplies. As many people lost their jobs, these basic needs are the most important.
We also need to be frugal in budgeting to keep our projects running and ensure that our foundation survives. This is crucial as we don’t know how long this pandemic will last, and some of our sponsors have already backed out due to financial trouble.
Learn more about how GlobalGiving’s Disaster Feedback Fellows are sharing best practices to bolster community-led relief efforts.
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