Our time together with the children has been nothing short of new experiences, even heart-stopping ones. This afternoon Dewi and I found myself riding vertically uphill to a village called Kayu Padi, lead by two of our 12 years-old guides. Back home, I have never encountered kids on motorbikes much less kids without helmets on motorbikes going up a steep slope like motorsports professionals. Don’t get me wrong, I have always questioned the safety of kids riding this way and at some extent it will be in my own righteous mind to stop them. But I saw how much the motorcycle has help the kids get to school as well. In a place where there is no public transport, getting to school for a child would mean going on foot for close to 3 kilometers up and down the hilly plateau of the Kintamani region. To do that everyday is such a feat for child, it is no surprise why getting to school can be a challenge.
In this project, we learnt that “childhood” bears different perspectives in different culture. In one culture, a child’s life belongs to juggling time at school, tuition, enrichment classes and getting homework done. To another culture, a child return home from school to help their parents with the chores in the farm, harvesting crops and weeding the land or helping out at a warung (small food store). Though, there are also points where the different the childhoods converges. In Kintamani, children for leisure climb and tumble down hills, swim nude in the lake and fly kites. Yet slowly, with the introduction of the “latest” form of entertainment, boys try to find time in front of a play station (where in Songan is parked in the temple grounds) to play games like Grand Theft Auto.
The greatest lesson that Dewi and I learned when spending time with the children is in how happiness can be found in the simplest of ways. These kids, living in the rural Bali have the most creative ways of making nature their playground. In the absence of all the provisions and facilities of a “developed” society, children find their own means of engaging with their world and growing.