The people who fall through the cracks
There is a charity in Bali with a special mission. Yayasan Solemen Indonesia is in the serious business of sleuthing out a segment of Bali’s population that could be called the forgotten disadvantaged. These are the people living in abject poverty, affected by physical and mental conditions; they are typically not on the radar of mainstream charitable organisations and thus are deprived of easy access to adequate medical care. You could say they are the people who fall through the cracks.
They typically live in remote areas or are hidden from view in more urban or suburban areas due to disfiguring physical illnesses or untreated mental issues. They are mostly found through referrals. The Solemen Outreach team has made it a specialty to find them, to organise their treatment, to give them hope and bring a drastic change to their lives.
The Solemen Outreach team is always on the road. This roving, fast acting group is composed of volunteer doctors, nurses and therapists who can quickly and effectively assess the situation, target help where it will do most good and have the most impact. They find the cases with pernicious diseases, acute and untreated medical conditions, suffering from severe malnutrition or grinding poverty. In other words, people most in need of attention and care.
Since Solemen’s founding in 2011, the caseload of the Outreach team has incrementally increased year by year. Presently the team cares for over 1400 ”Solebuddies’, their endearing term for the people under their care. Most of them are children, impoverished families, frail elderly and mental patients. They take care of them by funding or facilitating medical assessments, treatments and interventions. Whenever possible they work alongside accredited agencies, aid groups and medical service providers and try to help wherever they can. They have instigated nutrition programmes, deliver monthly food parcels and created the SoleHouse, a haven for Solebuddies and/or their families or caregivers who need a place to stay when they are undergoing treatments at nearby Sanglah hospital.
Solemen’s monthly care budget is always stretched as the charity is not the recipient of government funding or sizeable donations from corporate sponsors. Instead they fund their work thanks to the support of caring and empathic individuals, through crowd funding appeals and partnerships with local Bali businesses and organisations. A small portion of Solemen’s budget comes from a line of merchandise available online at www.solemen.org/shop. These products range from attractive and edgy garments and accessories to health foods like VCO and Moringa. The best selling item is the SoleTeddy, the Solemen mascot.
A big part of Solemen’s funding comes from partners like The Hard Rock Hotel, Bali Dynasty Resort and others who donate the proceeds of a $ per stay voluntary guest contribution program. Other hospitality providers like Finns Beach Club commit to a set yearly contribution and regularly organise special events like The Melbourne Cup to spice up Solemen’s coffers. Frankenstein’s Laboratory, another enthusiastic Solemen supporter, regularly stages SoleTeddy auctions among its patrons. They all are an elite sample of Bali CSR generosity.
Even so, due to the ever increasing caseload and the necessity to expand the size of the Outreach team, the monthly expenditures exceed the inflow and the need for sustainable funding is more acute than ever. Ideally Solemen would like to put more Outreach teams on the road and create Solemen Clinics for different areas of Bali. This is of course a mammoth undertaking and since Solemen is not a well-endowed charity, we will need a little help from old and new friends alike to realise this goal. It takes a lot of money to set up a clinic and the next Solemen Outreach team. But like the expression ”many hands make light work’ a multitude of small contributions can make a mighty difference. Or as one of the Solemen’s team members judiciously expresses it: a penny here and a penny there make for a lot of pennies at the end of the year.
The work of Yayasan Solemen never stops because the needs are always ongoing. Sustainable funding is a heaven-sent resource, whether in the form of many pennies pooled together or the corporate sponsorship of a new benefactor. If you like the idea of helping, even if only to donate the jingling pennies in your pocket, you are invited to join the elite group of Solemen supporters and participate in the satisfaction gained from making a difference in the lives of the people who fall through the cracks.
...a quid, a bob, a fiver...?
Solemen’s catchy hashtag is all atwitter on social media and gives the charity and its activities a wider reach and recognition. It’s a campaign we hope will entice people to chip in a buck, a quid, a bob, a fiver or whatever loose change is rattling in your pocket. Pocket change can be a lifeline for our SoleBuddies who are destitute, ill, disabled and malnourished or have no easy access to medical care.
By passing the buck to us, we can continue our quest to make a significant change in the lives of those in need through our Solemen Outreach program. We operate on a shoestring budget yet we book wonderful results because we focus on providing help where it is most needed and will have the most impact. Your generosity will create smiles, give hope and change lives forever. We love it when the buck stops here.
With grateful appreciation,
Robert Epstone & the Solemen Team
By Ines Wynn
Magazine issue > Lifestyle&Leisure