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Social Initiatives: Nuts, Lingo And Afro-Asia

Nuts, local  lingo and deep in the forest. Charity begins at home.

East Bali Cashews

When Aaron Fishman and his wife Lindsay arrived in the small village of Ban on the slopes of Mount Agung in 2012 to begin work with a local NGO, they encountered an impoverished village in an arid landscape where it was difficult to grow nearly anything except for the hardy cashew tree.

The couple’s arrival happened to coincide with the cashew season, and so while they taught the villagers about nutrition and sanitation, the villagers taught them about cashews. Aaron and Lindsay discovered that middlemen purchased most of the raw nuts and shipped them off to places like Vietnam and India for processing. The nuts were then distributed worldwide, including back to Indonesia.

Aaron quickly realized the potential to build a processing plant that would produce high-quality cashews and empower the people of Ban by providing jobs and skills training. Within just a few months he was able to put together a business plan and gain the support of investors. Soon after, East Bali Cashews, the first modern large-scale cashew processing plant in Indonesia, was born.

Today the company employs more than 350 people from the northeast of Bali and buys cashews directly from over 3,000 farmers, making it the region’s largest employer. In addition, approximately 90 per cent of the employees are women, a conscious decision on the part of the company to address the fact that women in this region have very few if any economic opportunities.

Social initiatives are also high on the list of priorities for East Bali Cashews. Their first extension project was AnaKardia, a preschool where the children of factory workers and community members can receive quality education and nutritious meals every day. They also have a factory store where employees can get subsidized groceries, and a farmer extension program that teaches farmers how to get better yields and generate more income.

You can support East Bali Cashews by donating to The Cashew Families Foundation or purchasing some of their delicious cashews flavoured with natural Indonesian ingredients like sea salt, chilli and kaffir lime. They also sell muesli, granola, snack mix and rosella tea.



How many times have you been told by Balinese and non-Balinese people alike that learning Bahasa Bali is just too difficult? True, there are at least three different levels of Balinese language that change depending on your caste and to whom you are speaking. This has made it quite difficult for language learners to grasp when and where to use the various forms. In fact, only a small sliver of non-native speakers have mastered all the nuances and forms of the language, and even many Balinese people often find it easier to use Bahasa Indonesia to avoid social faux pas.

Currently there are only about 3.3 million people who can speak Basa Bali fluently, and this number is actually dwindling due to both internal and external forces. BASAbali is a non-profit organisation based in the US that aims to reverse this trend by bringing together linguists, anthropologists, musicologists, videographers, and software specialists from Indonesia, Singapore, the US, Australia and South Korea to produce the first comprehensive multimedia language materials in Balinese.

BASAbali’s plan is to not just document the language, but to revive it as a living, working and proliferating language. As part of this mission, they have created a series of 30 dialogue-based videos that teach Balinese language in the context of everyday situations. The inspiration for this method of instruction comes from Professor John Wolff and his Indonesian language learning materials that encourage people to speak naturally in real-life scenarios rather than memorise long lists of words.

The conversational videos are just one part of a series of language learning tools supported by the Transparent Language Platform. Along with the dialogue videos there are also exercises, grammar notes, word-use explanations and cultural explanations. There are also videos for learning Balinese script with detailed instructions about the different components like consonants, vowels, semi-vowels, sound killers, sacred symbols and punctuation. The organisation hopes that this will function as a modern, interactive and effective way to learn Basa Bali.

The software is available online or in DVD form in versions for Indonesian and English speakers for USD $25, or free of charge for Balinese schools, community groups, or non-profit organisations. Proceeds go towards helping Balinese university students use these materials in Balinese middle schools, technical support, additional script modules, and updating the software.


Krishnalila Foundation

Krishnalila Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering women, youth and children in African and Asian regions. The foundation was founded in 2015 and came about as a collaboration between two independent organisations working for different causes, but with the same goal of reaching out to provide more opportunities to individuals in an effort to create a better quality of life for all and create a more peaceful world.

The Forrest Club began with a mission to empower youth through the arts, and bridge communications between disparate communities in Bali. Their main goal was to encourage conflict resolution and a peaceful atmosphere on the island. Their activities were so successful that many local, national and international institutions and organisations have adopted their methods. They continue to do this work, and have also turned their attention to partnering with schools to assist with teaching job-specific knowledge and practical skills.

The African Asian Women Network (Afrosian) is an organisation established by alumni of the Asian Peacebuilders Scholars and their colleagues at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (Upeace) in Costa Rica. It was established with the realisation that Africans and Asians share similar histories, cultures, and stereotypes, particularly when it comes to women.

Together the Forrest Club and Afrosian merged to become implementing units of the Krishnalila Foundation, with an additional unit added that focuses on children with autism. The foundation takes the concept of childhood love as their theme because they believe that pure love is at the root of all actions. Their main goals are to eliminate misery and sorrow among neglected and mistreated people, bring people and nations together in peace, and raise a new generation of youth who are equipped to handle future issues with compassion and wisdom.

Krishnalila Foundation achieves its goals by implementing empowerment programs that are carried out using a community-based approach, education and human resources for quality-of-life improvement. For more information on their projects and missives, visit their website. S.M.