Recently I wrote a personal post on FB about a friend being treated for cervical cancer; double chemo, blood transfusions, unstable kidney and liver function tests, and now 37 days of radiotherapy treatment. Add unemployment, a pandemic, and limited resources to the mix, you can understand why I wrote a post asking for just a little help for her and her family.
Many beautiful friends answered the call and were able to provide this woman with some much needed funding to help her provide for her family during these tough times; and a special friend to the woman helped in a different way – she contacted Yayasan Solemen Indonesia www.solemen.org
I went to visit Solemen at their headquarters in Kuta this week and within five minutes of being there, I felt incredibly privileged to have my health and to know that I had options. So many people get lost or are forgotten while suffering terrible health issues and right now, Bali is suffering even more as there is no tourism income that usually supports the majority of the island.
I met with Sarah and Robert and had a tour of the centre. In normal times, they have ten rooms occupied which provide a ‘home’ for up to 30 people. But right now, with social distancing rules, they are only able to utilize 5 rooms. Currently they have in-house patients ranging from babies and children with heart defects, to a boy who up until a year ago could walk and now is losing mobility and control, to an elderly woman being treated for breast cancer.
They have a tiny but very organized and impressive kitchen which during normal times produces 90 meals a day for all in-patients and clinic patients. The rooms are comfortable and offer privacy to families going through the most desperate times of their lives. There is also a lovely lounge area and TV, plus several playgrounds for the kids, as the majority of their patients (86%) are children.
Solemen is currently providing care to around 2500 people, from newborn babies to the elderly, with the recovery center for patients needing to come to Denpasar for hospital, clinic or therapy visits. Some patients stay 1- 2 nights, others stay for months depending on their circumstances.
The Outreach team at Solemen see all kinds of medical conditions ranging from cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, recessive genetic disorders, cancers, heart conditions, and mental health disorders. Every person stays with them long after they leave the village, the deep impact of their situation has a lasting effect and care is planned to meet their individual needs, and the circumstances of their living conditions.
Mental health patients who often chained, are locked in cages and hidden from the world, with no medication or understanding of how to handle their condition. These people need to be assessed by their volunteer psychiatrist Dr Gusti Rai, with medication prescribed by him and any injections are administered by their qualified nurse, Gede. The team offer support and medical assistance to the patient as well as ongoing support to their families while creating a better living condition that encourages rehabilitation. The team work with the patient to socialize and reintegrate them with the family and community involved, and teach them how to care for the individual.
The team care for babies with terrible heart defects requiring life-saving surgery; cancers of all kinds; genetic defects causing terrible skin problems – one child has delicate butterfly skin (Epidermolysis Bullosa) while another has tough snake skin (Harlequins Ichtyosis); amputations; neurological disorders…the list goes on.
With the onset of the pandemic, the team knew just how hard this was going to be – after all much of their funding came from tourism, whether from the businesses or tourists themselves. They have lost 90% of their normal funding as tourists are unable to get here and the businesses that are able to stay open are needing to support their own staff and their families. Things are getting grim and for Solemen to continue to carry out their amazing work, they need help.
There are food collection boxes at various locations ( https://solemen.org/drop-off-locations/ ), so anyone shopping in Bali is able to drop in a little extra food to be shared across families in need. Anyone can donate and help out via various methods https://solemen.org/donate/ and you would be surprised just how far a donation can go.
Here’s an example: if you donate approx. 800,000 IDR that provides a family of 4 with the basics they need for 1 whole month! That includes rice, oil, dried fish, dried beans, tinned fish, soap, toothpaste, washing powder, a huge tray of eggs, vegetables, fruit, noodles, tea, coffee, and sugar. They also have a program that gives the family an additional 20,000 IDR per day which helps them top up with fresh fruit and vegetables as they need it. For people going through medical treatments like chemo, 600,000 IDR gives them a special milk and nutrient formula which they desperately need for the vitamins and calories to heal.
Solemen are helping my friend now by providing her family with a food parcel every month, including the Ensure formula, and by organizing her transport to and from the hospital for treatment. Her husband can’t go with her as he stays with their three young children, and when you have no income, catching a taxi daily is expensive, not to mention risky during COVID times.
I left Solemen feeling even angrier and sadder than usual at the COVID situation; we are all suffering in some way but those enduring terrible health conditions on top of all the normal pandemic stresses, are hurting the most and they need our help to get through this.
A little money in Bali goes a long way. I’m sure everyone is helping other people already, but if you have any spare love and money to give, please get in touch with Solemen on FB @IndonesiaSoleMen or IG @solemen.indonesia and find out how you can help or donate to feed a family in serious need.
Written by The Travellist Team