His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences
The real story behind the precipitate action by Bali’s authorities to close down BAWA – the Bali Animal Welfare Association – will probably never be known. It cannot have been licensing irregularities alone, surely? The only people who get pinged over licence issues here are those who have trodden on some bigwig’s ego, often with good reason. The island is littered with buildings that do not have permits and enterprises that are inadequately licensed or not licensed at all; it is overrun with vehicles that are unregistered and drivers and motorbike riders who are unlicensed; and there is a myriad of cosy little far-from-legal wink-and-nod deals, including in the veterinary area, that no one even bothers to hide. Bali is that sort of place.
BAWA does sterling work with Bali’s street dogs, many of which live appalling lives that should shame anyone with a conscience. The message it consistently puts out should be readily understood by anyone. If you feed a dog, it’s yours, whether or not it actually is. And if a dog is yours, you are responsible for it.
Let’s not forget that without BAWA there would probably not have been a properly managed vaccination program to control rabies, or an education program directed at and in the interests of local people. It was BAWA that did the hard yards and got the crisis recognized by global health authorities. We should not forget either that the disease – whether reintroduced or simply breaking out of dormancy; it doesn’t matter – emerged in early to mid-2008: now fully half a decade ago.
And let’s not forget that in 2008 a number of people died of rabies before anyone in the animal or human health areas could be bothered to notice. Let’s not forget that at least 150 people are known to have died of the disease. If it had been bubonic plague – that’s a zoonotic disease too – there would have been panic and Bali’s tourism industry would have been dumped in the plague pit along with the human casualties.
There are other things not to forget. BAWA funded the first-ever rabies seminar in Bali hosted by Udayana medical college where World Health Organization specialists and leading rabies experts spent three days educating local doctors and veterinarians in best-practice rabies control. Let’s not forget BAWA had a stellar reputation with the provincial local government until this year when many positions in animal husbandry were switched in another of the tedious merry-go-rounds of administrative changes that happen here.
BAWA founder and chief organizer Janice Girardi personally funded Bali’s first-ever rabies campaign late 2009 as proof for international funders that it is possible (although it is never easy) to catch and vaccinate dogs that have never before been handled by humans. BAWA vaccinated 48,000 dogs in six months during that pilot programme.
Girardi was away from Bali when the authorities chose to swoop. That they did so then instead of waiting for her to get home is itself a disgrace that prompts questions. The local media reported that she had refused to allow officials to enter BAWA’s premises. How was this possible? Did she email herself back to the island to stand in the doorway?
The dog vaccination campaign and related sterilization programs must continue along with the audited and regulated public education BAWA introduced in October 2010 and which since April 2011 has been conducted in consultation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The education effort must go on because many people (among them the thicker expatriates) still refuse to comprehend that street dogs are not “wild dogs” but the abandoned or ephemerally fed canine victims of human thoughtlessness or their progeny. BAWA’s dog population control programs are vital not only to the issue of stray dogs but also for effective reduction of rabies.
It goes beyond this too. If BAWA is shut down, what will the authorities do about the 30-40 emergency calls each day to which BAWA responds, round the clock, free of charge? The question is rhetorical. We know that the answer is “nothing”.
Tourism veteran John (Jack) Daniels wrote an open letter to Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika about all this on Sept. 21 (read it on www.balidiscovery.com). It was a courageous move and he deserves applause for taking this action. His determination to get things back on track – and to keep BAWA in business – sends a strong signal to the authorities that the situation has gone far beyond the point where (according to some people) no one should speak up forcefully for fear of being thought a meddlesome foreigner who should go home if they don’t like it here.
BAWA needs support, financial and well as moral. Rabies must be reduced to a point where it is no longer a daily threat. That requires concerted, proactive engagement at every level of society and in every community.
Letters as an Art Form
This year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival is nearly with us (Oct. 11-15) and, as has been its established pattern, the festival has spread its wings a little bit further again. The Women of Letters series, fresh from sell-out shows in New York and Los Angeles, is presenting events in Indonesia for the first time – and one of them is at the UWRF.
We live in a world of short text messages and Twitter – even the Diary’s on Twitter – but classical letter-writing is a very civilized activity we should not let go by the board. Thanks to Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire and their series Women of Letters we are reminded of the beautiful art of letter writing.
The Ubud event, including a workshop and under the UWRF banner, is on Oct. 12 at Indus. It is in collaboration with the Salihara Literary Biennale (Jakarta), a delightful bringing together two of Indonesia’s most high-profile literary events and featuring leading Indonesian and Australian writers (women, naturally) who will share their stories through the art of letter writing at events.
The Jakarta event is on Oct. 3 and there’s another in Yogyakarta on Oct. 5 under the auspices of the Langgeng Art Foundation.
It’s an impressive line-up: Anne Summers, Alphamama, Ayu Utami, Clare Bowditch, Emilie Zoey Baker, Khairani Barokka, Kirsty Murray, Laura Jean McKay, Lionel Shriver, Lisa Febriyanti, Okky Madasari, Olin Monteiro, Robin de Crespigny and the Diary’s personal pick of the show, Shamini Flint.
This year’s UWRF pays homage to Raden Ayu Kartini, defined as Indonesia’s pioneer of women’s rights.
Good Deed, Great Veg
Tricia Kim of the Rotary Club of Canggu tells us the art auction held at Tugu Hotel recently raised more than Rp65 million to improve the lives of prisoners in Kerobokan Jail. The money will help build a garden at the jail and means prisoners will have access to more fresh food and achieve better balance in their diets.
Art up for auction at the event was the work of Kerobokan inmates, including Bali Nine convict Myuran Sukumaran, who has obtained prison authorities’ support to fund an organic garden and improve drainage and basic environmental conditions at the jail.
Among the many supporters of efforts to provide Kerobokan prisoners with a better life is the Australian not for profit enterprise Emerald Community House, whose director Mary Farrow has been providing support to Kerobokan inmates for more than a year.
She says this: “The prison arts program provides a rehabilitation activity that engages inmates and provides an opportunity for expression. The artwork produced by the prison arts studio will fund a new permaculture garden and help improve drainage in the garden area.”
Earlier this year the acclaimed Australian painter Ben Quilty led an art class at the prison art studio, which is said to have remarkably improved the quality of artworks produced by the inmates. Well done Quilty – and well done inmates. The result at the Tugu auction was vigorous bidding for the artworks on offer. Well done bidders!
The food garden and drainage improvements planned at the jail follow a visit to Kerobokan earlier this year by local Indonesian NGO the IDEP Foundation, from which a plan was developed. Rotary Canggu then offered to host an auction of artworks by the inmates to help fund the prison garden project.
Gede Sugiarta of IDEP Foundation says: “We recently worked with the Bangli prison to create an organic garden and the inmates found it very therapeutic. They get exercise and they grow fresh vegetables they might not get otherwise. We’re really excited to work with Kerobokan prison and the inmates to build a garden and improve the environment.”
Well, we didn’t make it along there ourselves, but as we promised Tom Hufnagel when he invited us, we drank beer anyway. The Bali Oktoberfest was held at JP’s Warung in the KLS F&F (fun and frivolity) precinct on Sep. 27.
Tom promised a Bavarian Beer Tent atmosphere with – sorry, that should be mit – Wiesn Haendl, Schweinshaxn, Nuernberger mit Sauerkraut, traditional Bavarian food and live stage performances featuring lederhosen and dirndl. A toast: Eine weitere Bintang bitte!
Hector tweets @ scratchings
BAD DIARIST’S NOTE: Tricia Kim reminds me that the Kerobokan benefit night was at La Finca, a fine establishment, not at Hotel Tugu, also a fine establishment. Apologies.