Freyr is my 19 year old Australian daughter who has medium to high level intellectual disability and traits of Autism diagnosed as Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome. I am her Australian mother Natalie; 43 times I’ve orbited the sun since my birth. We have been living in Bali for the last 4 years where we founded our own Social Inclusion Project: BAMBOO CREATIVE BALI (www.bamboocreative.org/bali) after being told by Australian Disability funding regulators (NDIS) in 2017 that what we wanted to create and our Vision for our life and future “didn’t exist”.

Through experiencing BEING in Com-munity here, and creating this bamboo house project home for Freyr, she has been able to access to a quality of life that was not possible for her living in Australia. I have been incredibly inspired since first coming to Asia at how inclusive the culture is towards people with special needs, and by the presence of Foundations/Yayasans here in Bali whose charter it is to help children with disabilities. I have actually felt human and connected in a way I had never experienced at a day-to-day level living in Australia; We naturally slotted in to a more co-operative mindset and sense of shared responsibility… I feel so blessed to have the ability to experience life and contribute in a meaningful way, while furthering my own knowledge and skills, and, to see my daughter thrive and be accepted.

I see my that my Higher-Purpose responsibility is to enable Freyr to access a more inclusive way of life – that restores and enhances environment, culture and which is managed cooperatively. This is what led me to have a vision to create a wholistic village model where “sustainable” activities are just part of daily life and form part of a living program where our “kids” get to join in and participate together with paid staff/carers and the broader local community as well as volunteers/visitors who wish to participate and are interested in sharing their time and skills with us…

We have been able to share our journey together with international helpers and volunteers, local tradespeople and craftsmen and experience  a rich social and cultural environment: Freyr has been able to be cared for by local carers, attend a wonderful special needs program and become a part of the local community.

I don’t really know what possessed me to build a bamboo house except that I was intent on finding an affordable method for treating bamboo so that it doesn’t get destroyed by insects (borers)… and also a style of building with bamboo that is “attractive”, practical, affordable and sustainable for people in developing countries and also western countries (low-middle income) and which can be constructed with a work team of around 4-6 people. We have achieved something amazing in that sense. And have learned so much along the way – culturally, skill-wise and personally. 

Freyr's Bamboo Home

Now through hosting workshops in bamboo craft and construction here at Freyr’s Bamboo Home, and through expanding our program to include local families, kids and adult programs, visitors will be able to come and learn about bamboo building and sustainable technologies and up-cycling at projects that benefit the local community – and help to build and develop local social enterprises (the fees from our programs fund materials, expertise and project management). With our formal foreign investment business (PMA) in Indonesia we will endeavour to promote our local workshops and to partner with local projects and villages in our full capacity to share skills and resources and create collaborations to expand this project to include complimentary activities around natural building and Regenerative Agriculture with small business start-up local farming enterprises.

Alongside that, we intend to make our space (Freyr’s Bamboo Home) maximally inclusive for local and international families with special needs “kids” through enableing accessibility to a second therapy/play-space here at Freyr’s Bamboo house with local foundations. We also plan to host family retreat programs connected with local staff, facilities and accommodation to support a special needs family holiday program. And, empower local parents of special needs kids to become involved in a Social Enterprise Association while their kids participate in activities that are part of our program, and so access social inclusion and be able to contribute and earn income facilitating our public Bamboo Classes and Jungle-School program. This will go on to form part of a post-school program with supported accommodation which will offer a place where local and international families can also come and stay and access respite (time to nurture their own needs as an individual) and social connectivity…

(See our FRIENDS OF FREYR page for more info about this project and current opportunities to join our Family Homestay in Bali.)

previous project In Cairns, Australia

I am currently working to establish a not-for-profit trading co-operative for people with special needs compatible with my daughter’s and their families who may want to visit/spend time in Bali and be part of a supported lifestyle and activity program. Currently we live in Bali and I am able to support people travelling to Bali (or anywhere internationally) as a support worker. I also have a registered Australian ABN and can provide personal care, one-on-one support with daily-life activities..

We can help other families by providing support or children/young adults with special needs on a part time or full-time basis if parents want to get away for some “retreat time”, just want some time through the day to themselves, or if the person/child is travelling alone. Our visitors are welcome to Freyr’s school program and we have local carers who help us so we can  provide support to others. 

We can help also with arranging travel plans, organising accommodation, transport, tours and local activities, as well as basic translation, shopping, sourcing and connecting with local families for potential opportuneur/innovative small business partnership formation/s (for small trade and market stall businesses for people with special needs).

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