Balinese life no holiday for charity man

Alexander ScottPilbara News
Sharon Leane, De’Balix and Michael Whittaker. Picture Supplied
Camera IconSharon Leane, De’Balix and Michael Whittaker. Picture Supplied

A generous Point Samson man is going the extra mile to help impoverished people in Bali after taking over the funding of a Foodbank charity.

Michael Whittaker took over the majority of funding of the Ikan Kecil Amed Foodbank, formed in 2017 by Anthony Verburgt and Magdalena Cymenek, after 2017’s Mt Agung eruption. Mr Whittaker found out about the group when he grew tired of the rat-race in Bali and searched for places to dive and Amed came up.

“My wife and I were having a great time, and we jumped on a scooter going up the mountain and realised these guys were very poor and didn’t have running water,” he said.

The Foodbank acts as a support system for families with special needs or disabilities, and with the help of two local employees, they are given food, medical treatments and advice.

Mr Whittaker had been involved in the group for 18 months when Mr Verburgt was in a head-on collision in Bali last year, breaking his arm. Since then, he has been acting as an adviser and funding the service himself to help families in need.

“We only help families with special needs, disabled children or family members,” he said. “As soon as you have a child with special needs over there, it takes away one of the parents that could be working.”

Mr Whittaker said it was essential to make life sustainable for the people rather than hand out money.

He said the group delivered rice and standard food, and supplied chickens to families so they could start to earn an income.

“We have a chicken program, where we supply them with 10 chickens that becomes protein for them, but they also can start chicken farming,” he said.

“A lot of people say to me why Bali, why not Australia, but the way I look at it is if an Australia falls and breaks his arm, an ambulance will come and pick them up and take them to hospital. Over in Bali, there is no option, and that is the difference.”

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