Grab a Nasi Bungkus: Community charity stalls are popping up across Bali to help people with free meals

The signs say, “Those who need it, take it for free. Those who can afford it, feel free to fill it out.

All over Bali, individuals and communities have set up charity stalls offering free nasi bungkus, or packaged rice, for those struggling in these difficult times in Indonesia. Small stalls are erected on the sidewalk or in a corner, with hooks and a sign, where people can pick up what they need for free or give a little something to the local community.

The distribution of free meals has been relatively common in Bali during the pandemic, but it seems to appear more in recent weeks, especially since the emergency enforcement of restrictions on public activities (Emergency PPKM) began earlier this month. this.

“We saw how Emergency PPKM impacted people in our community, their struggles were very visible and we saw it every day,” said Eddy Mustofa, CEO of Big Garden Corner. Coconut in an interview.

A team from the tourist attraction and restaurant in Sanur then brainstormed ideas to help people in their area, which prompted them to set up the free nasi bungkus booth just six days ago. After sharing the initiative on social media, Eddy said he received an overwhelmingly positive response from those who wanted to support their cause.

Big Garden Corner said it distributed 40 nasi bungkus on the first day, but is now helping people by providing groceries as well, thanks to the generous donations they have received. Their team oversees the booth to make sure the free supplies reach more people in need and not just the same privileged few, Eddy said. So far, they are able to help around 100 people per day.

“What people get from that day is all they eat for that day,” said Eddy, illustrating the dire conditions for many in Bali right now.

Free initiative of Nasi Bungkus in the regency of Gianyar. Photo: Instagram / Dayu_Bimbika

More than 36,000 people fell below the poverty line during the pandemic in Bali, with the province’s rate rising to 4.53% last year. This means that nearly 202,000 people out of Bali’s total population of 4.32 million now earn less than IDR 452,221 ($ 31.21) per month.

The current set of emergency restrictions across Indonesia, which is the closest thing the country has seen to a lockdown, has further prevented people from trying to make a living. But the measures are more than needed to tackle the devastating wave of coronavirus cases, which has resulted in a daily record of new infections and deaths in Indonesia. Bali, for its part, only reported its highest daily new infections on Saturday, at 1,019 cases, with some 7,300 people currently on treatment to date.

At the time of publication, the government has yet to announce whether the emergency PPKM will be extended beyond July 20, but its impact on people’s livelihoods, coupled with the poor distribution of aid. government, becomes more and more apparent.

Kadek Fitri Purnami, a Denpasar-based photographer who founded the local charity Agro Bali x Bali Charity, also reached out to people and families in need in various parts of the province.

Together with his photographer colleague, Agus Putu Pranayoga, they have distributed over 1,000 meals in Denpasar, Badung, Tabanan and Buleleng since they started a week ago, which has been possible thanks to a network of around 15 volunteers despite mobility restrictions under the emergency PPKM. Their initiative is also working with local food vendors to help struggling small businesses as well.

Kadek said Coconut that the situation in Bali at the moment is “of great concern” given that many people have relied heavily on the tourism industry. The couple, who are both wedding photographers, are among those who have been financially affected by the pandemic.

“When there were no more wedding concerts and we were just staying at home, we decided to start handling donations transparently. We really wanted to help, and somehow a lot of people got pushed to donate through us, and every day there are always donations, ”Kadek said, adding that all donations are recorded and shared. via Instagram.

Agro Bali x Bali Charity also reached out to people and families in need in Denpasar, Badung, Tabanan and Buleleng.  Photo courtesy of Agro Bali x Bali Charity
Agro Bali x Bali Charity caters to people and families in need in Denpasar, Badung, Tabanan and Buleleng. Photo courtesy of Agro Bali x Bali Charity

At first, Kadek was a bit skeptical; she wasn’t sure people would be willing to donate when times are already tough for everyone, but her husband told her to let go of her pessimism.

“[We started this initiative because] my husband was called back by a message from his late father, who said: how can we help each other? [That way] we can pave the way for people’s fortunes and strengthen ours, ”Kadek said.

“My husband said: when we have good and honest intentions, and we are sincere, there will always be a way. The most important thing is to start.

Eddy also spoke about the Big Garden Corner project with a similar mindset. The company may have been severely affected by the pandemic and subsequent restrictions, especially now during the emergency PPKM, but obviously that hasn’t stopped the team from reaching out.

“Good intentions should never be limited, so let’s see where it goes,” he said, when asked how long Big Garden Corner plans to carry the initiative forward.

Free groceries and meals to be won in the regency of Gianyar.  Photo: Instagram / Komang Arip Ariadi
Free groceries and meals to be won in the regency of Gianyar. Photo: Instagram / Komang Arip Ariadi

Eddy hopes that these kinds of initiatives can inspire others to start their own in their local community, as it would then mean reaching more people in need, while allocating resources more efficiently.

“These are real help that they can receive right away […] I hope this can inspire others and so more initiatives like these emerge, so that we can reach more people in the community and pay attention to those who might need support, ”said Eddy.

Through efforts such as those of Kadek and Eddy, many members of the community were indeed inspired to launch theirs. On social media, there are already glimpses of various free nasi bungkus stalls that popped up last week, illustrating the strength of people helping each other out in times of need.

Sometimes all it takes is a handful of caring people in our own community, Eddy said.

“It becomes a responsibility for all of us in these difficult times […] it might be small, but we can try to do something, ”he said.

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