Back in 2013, three young and pretty fearless Indonesian women became tired of being asked by foreigners why Indonesian’s didn’t give a shit when it came to caring for street animals. Over coffee coke and the occasional Bintang, they voiced their frustration at not only their fellow citizens apparent lack of care for animals, but also at foreigners who could not see what was right in front of their faces. The three young women in front of them were Indonesian’s who gave a shit.
Apart from working long hours, six days a week with a well-known animal welfare organisation and receiving a monthly salary way below what they could expect in the corporate world. These women also worked out of hours rescuing and advocating for the Street Dogs of Bali.
One weekend on a well-deserved day off one of these young women got a group of her friends together. Rather than heading to the beach or a large shopping mall, they spent the day street feeding free roaming animals and talking with other young people in the area about animals and animal welfare. This informal day was a great success and pretty soon every day off was spent street feeding with friends and talking with other young people about the importance of caring for animals.
Word soon spread through social media and they gained a following. The three women began to become more organised in their approach, as each weekend they were having more and more young men and women join them in their street feeding missions. The street feeding days rolled into evening activities. The young women established movie nights in local Banjar’s, strategically showing animal themed films. These too grew in popularity.
As they reflected on their growing number of supporters, they realized that there were in fact a number of Indonesian’s who gave a shit. At that time the only formalized welfare charities on Bali were established and run by foreigners.
So, they started their own.
Seva Bhuana is the end result of three years of solid hard work, buckets of sweat, tears, laughter, ridicule, frustrations and ultimately satisfaction. Along the way they have been challenged intimidated and threatened. They are tackling some of their cultures norms head on. They have learned from the foreigners influencing their culture, taken what they needed and adapted it to their own community’s cultural context. They may have started out motivated by wanting to show that they were Indonesian’s who gave a shit, but they have now taken on the role of being instruments of change.
With women like Agra, Ina and Yogi in the world, we worry less for the future and are so very proud to have been invited to be spectators on their journey.