Softchoice Cares: Does aid really make a difference? [Video]

The first week of February marks International Development Week (IDW) – a time to explore and celebrate the difference volunteers are making around the world. In honor of this year’s event, Softchoice Cares – an employee-led philanthropic program focused on furthering computer literacy – has produced a video documentary of their 2012 trip to Bali. The team’s mission was to install new computer labs on behalf of seven Balinese orphanages managed by the Widhya Asih Foundation. But as the group learned, a ‘hand-out’ isn’t necessarily the same as a ‘hand-up’. [Read more…]

Eight things I learned during our Bali mission

  1. Children are inspirational: They are resilient and whatever life throws at them, they take it in stride. They also look towards the future rather than harping on the past.
  2. When it comes to team work – whether it’s an IT project, moving dirt and sand, or wall-painting at a construction site – the total is greater than the sum of the individual efforts.
  3. Always have a plan B, or maybe even a plan C ready no matter what. [Read more…]

A volunteer mission with sustainable impact

The building adjacent to our guesthouse in Bali is owned by a local church.  From afar, its majestic columns and polished tile stand in stark contrast to the rice fields that surround most of the island’s interior.  Much like Bali itself though, there are constant reminders that this is purely aesthetic.  Small rodents call this building home, and share the space with roaches and a family of birds, who disappear into the light fixtures each night. This duality is essentially why we chose Bali as our project location. 

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Pass the Bucket: Small Act that Makes a Big Difference

I stood looking at several mounds of sand; slightly shorter than all 5’8” of me and about five feet round. “We’re supposed to do what?” I asked. I had actually heard right the first time, but I was stalling for time. Just enough time to store up energy for the long day ahead. We were at a construction site, helping to re-build an orphanage. I say helping rather loosely since seventy percent of the building had already been constructed. Plus the fact that none of us had much experience in constructing buildings. This also meant that our group was tasked with the grunt work; transporting one of the sand piles to the second story of the building. [Read more…]

Volunteering in Bangli brings a new sense of purpose.

The Widhya Asih Foundation is a collection of 7 different orphanages and one office location spread out across the entire island of Bali. Since they are so spread out, we often start our days waking up early for breakfast and then heading out to one of the sites which can be anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours away. I have found this to be a great way to see the whole island even if it is only from a car window as we pass through towns. I would hardly call these drives relaxing though, as these roads have some of the craziest drivers I have ever seen. One of the locations we went to today, Bangli, is still a construction site. They have 25 kids at a temporary site nearby which is an old restaurant that contains two large dorm rooms. The plan is to have the new site up by June and they also would like to at least double the amount of kids they can take in as well. Bangli has quickly gathered a reputation among our group for being the most challenging site you can visit. As much as Bangli is physically exhausting, it is just as much mentally exhausting. [Read more…]

What’s the measure of a good life?

How do you measure if you have a good life, or if you’re happy? If you asked most North American’s that question, their answers would be all across the board.  Perhaps it’s the ability to buy a new car, or graduate from high school or college.  Maybe it’s a new house or that boat you always dreamed of.

If you asked me that question, I would probably tell you that I want to make enough money to be comfortable, to go on a nice vacation once a year, and put my kids through college – just like my parents did for me.

Ask that same question to a girl from the Untal Untal orphanage and she would tell you something entirely different. I bet it’s not something materialistic like a new car or shiny boat. She’ll likely answer that it’s the ability to simply go to school and not have to live day to day, not knowing when or where her next meal will come from.

Getting to know Anita

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