soul surf project Bali

My latest writing job is doing environmental features for Insight Magazine – its a great mag and am really proud to write for them, it also creates some interesting work assignments. This is the soul surf project Bali, a Dutch foundation that works with orphanages here on the island. First the kids are given environmental classes and have to take part in beach clean ups.  Armed with greater awareness of the environment and their impact on it, the kids are  rewarded with surf lessons and the chance to participate in surf competitions, turtle releases and art workshops.

I spend the morning on the beach with a group of kids, its their first surf lesson and they are pretty excited and there is lots of laughter and splashing about.  The girls are shy at first but are soon riding waves with as much enthusiasm as the boys; everyone encourages each other. Marieke, the project manager and  I watch from the shallows, she tells me “Surfing provides the orphans with an escape from their normal routine and creates a sense of accomplishment, of  yes I can do this.” One of the boys whizzes past us, catching a wave right to the shore and we all cheer as he does a little victory dance.

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Never too old for yoga

Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Ubud, Satyagraha is an oasis of  peace and serenity with organic vegetable  gardens, a tea plantation, dense banana groves and a magnificent sprawling wantilan house that is available for rent. It is part ashram, part education facility that brings the benifits of yoga to children. I visit to write about their kids programs and stumble across the class for village elders.  Classes take place in a spacious open air pavilion surrounded by tropical foliage and stone statues. I visit late one afternoon, one by one the elderly Balinese trickle in, dressed in tee shirts and tracksuit pants. Some arrive on foot, others have ridden by bicycle from surrounding villages and their ages range from around 60 to 95. It is clearly quite a social gathering and the pavilion is soon ringing with the sound of laughter. Deborah arrives, a tall blonde American with a huge smile and everyone becomes silent as she leads them through a series of asanas. She is considerate, patient and gentle and I am impressed with the agility and strength of the group as they twist and stretch.

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