At the beginning of March 2020, Joshua District supposed to host a charity event with Mahatmiya Bali to support the community of blind people. But the big lockdown came in and put all the plans into pause. This fact ain’t gonna stop us from sharing the story that is important for us and for society.
Mahatmiya Bali is the only Social Rehabilitation Center for People with Visual Disability in Bali that is located in Tabanan City. It covers 8 provinces in East Indonesia, and each semester they have approximately 30 students who’s goal is to learn the new skills and find a job or to open their own business.
The perfect example that everything is possible is Ayu Widiantari, a young girl who opened her own coffee shop near Seseh beach last year. She finished her class in Mahatmiya last December 2019. “It’s a small home coffee shop, but we are really proud of her” – Mr. Agung said. He adds that it’s three more students who are planning to build their own coffee shop after they will finish the courses at the center.
The Coffee subject was starting in March 2018 and Mahatmiya Bali is the first place in the whole Indonesia who provides this course. The reason behind it is simple — they know that blind people have much more to show to the world. “Usually any similar rehabilitation center in our country teaches the visually impaired people to build a career in massage therapy, which is very logical — lack of sight may actually be a competitive advantage. But we want to extend this list”, Mr. Agung adds. He is one of the trainers in Mahatmiya Bali who’s in charge of the Coffee course.
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Mr. Agung patiently teaches each student to make coffee one by one. The students are using instinct and touch to understand the structure and shape of the coffee machine. “I hold their hands, put them on the coffee machine to explain where is what. We also study how different coffee and different beans smell like, and they can feel the difference between Arabica and Robusta beans”, he explains. Mahatmiya gets the coffee beans directly from the local farmer in Pupuan and Kintamani. Besides making coffee, in this subject students also learn the basic skill of entrepreneurship such as kitchen operational, management, and finance operational, service, and promotion. Right now they are building its own coffee shop called “Artne Coffee” that will be open to the public and in this place the students will learn how to make and sell coffee to the real customers.
The most difficult moment for Mahatmiya Bali team is when they are not able to help. “Unfortunately it happens when some families have a member with special needs but they feel embarrassed about it, and do not allow their disable family member to go to our center”, shares Mr. Ibu Putu Esti, the leader of Mahatmiya Bali. He also explains that by the Indonesian Regulation, there should be 2% of employees with disabilities working in Government corporations, and for the Private businesses this number is at the level of 1%. “But in reality, most of them are still unemployed. It’s only 25% of people with special needs are working for the companies and last 75% working by themselves, making a small craft or have no job at all”, he adds.
Except for massage and coffee courses this center teaches its students to work with a speaking computer. Mr. Agus is the instructor for this course and he has a visual disability as well. “For me it is important to show with my own example that being blind is not a limit for anyone to be the best version of themselves”, he smiles.
Every 3 months Mahatmiya students join some exhibitions in Bali or in Jakarta for National Gathering. Since Covid-19 happened a lot of plans are canceled. One of them is Barbie Guling II — event by Joshua District that supposed to be held in March 2020. It was an art and fun event, including a charity art auction for visual disability students from Mahatmiya Bali.
Even during this difficult period, students are still staying on the positive side. They have a music band called Mahatmiya Band and playing music quite often.
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Writer: Bella Chrusita