Freyr is an 18 year old Australian woman who has medium to high level intellectual disability and traits of Autism diagnosed as Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome. Freyr and I (her mother) 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) for Freyr after being told by Australian Disability funding regulators (NDIA) in 2017 that what we wanted to create and our Vision for our life and future “didn’t exist” (well, if it did, we wouldn’t need a “vision” – would we? And NDIS funding is Supposed to enable families to enact Individual life plans with and for people with Special Needs/Disabilities). So we chose to settle here in Bali and be part of a less stressful and more inclusive and natural way of life…
I endeavor to become part of the network of social enterprises which are developing globally and help form connections in ways where we may return to our familiar/tribal roots as humankind and plant the seeds of Caring Custodianship; pulling the weeds of Capitalism out of our lives as we go… To rethink How we think... about ourselves and everything around us. Through experiencing BEING in Com-munity and engaging in activities which bring us into Communion/ Communication with ourselves and each other… To be able to Feel and just be Present for our Kids with special needs – and enjoy them!… To unravel our minds… to open our Hearts to what has been there all along. I see my responsibility to enable other families to also enjoy a more co-operative way of life – that restores and enhances the local culture also.
This is what led me to have a vision to create a wholistic village 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 travellers and visitors who wish to participate in being of service to the Greater Good and are interested in sharing their time and skills with us… (See our FRIENDS OF FREYR page for more info about this project and current opportunities to join our Family Homestay in Bali.)
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 in Australia. We naturally slotted in to a more co-operative mindset and sense of shared responsibility… I feel so blessed to be able to experience life in a more “meaningful” way and to be able to contribute in some way, and to help others.
What spurred me to create this project was my own need to feel part of an inclusive community where I can live in a collaborative family environment and Thrive; have a sense of purpose, and contribute to a community which is committed to seeing a better world for our children.
I have enjoyed spending my time just hanging out and learning stuff in this “Eastern” way and Being with other humans and being able to have multiple eyes to help watch my daughter (she’s a bit like an oversized toddler in some ways). The most terrible thing living in Australia with my daughter, was feeling that I had no way to “contribute meaningfully” … my time was taken just in looking out for my daughter and trying to arrange things for her needs to be met. I had no time for myself or to fulfil my own needs: Beyond having my basic needs met and ensuring my daughter’s future wellbeing… I have things to offer and I want to be able to WORK and develop my passion… Involving myself with creating this project has enabled me to share my gifts with others; give my daughter social interaction and stimulation and a more genuinely true quality of life and sense of well-being.
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. We have spent the last 4 years building this house and I don’t really know what possessed me to do it 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 that is “attractive”, practical and buildable with a work team of around 6 people. We have achieved something amazing I think! And have learned so much along the way – culturally, skill-wise, and personally.
Now we host workshops in bamboo craft and construction here at Freyr’s House and through expanding our program, People 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 local social enterprises (the fees from our programs fund materials, expertise and project management). Alongside that, we intend to make our space (Freyr’s Bamboo House) 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 Freyr’s school – Matahari Terbit Foundation. This will also enable local parents of special needs kids to become involved in a Social Enterprise Disability Association while their kids participate in activities, and so access social inclusion and be able to contribute and earn income through the making and sale of our craft workshop items like lamps, vertical gardens and bamboo jewellery, and also through staff employment in facilitating our public Bamboo Classes and Jungle-School program.
I am currently registering a foreign investment business (PMA) in Indonesia which will enable promotion of 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 and a small business start-up with a local farming enterprise. 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… (Link to Sales Page)
There is not much available in the way of local support services for disabilties in Indonesia but there is a network of people doing truly amazing and aspiring things which I am inspred by and wish to follow, support and enhance by bringing more International involvement and attaining co-involvement and collaboration with these truly compassionate and heatfelt projects and people – and in so doing help local families, livelhoods and economy. This project has been entirely self-funded so far through income I have received from a lump sum of 14 years unpaid Child Support (thanks to my daughter’s father) and ongoing Child Support income up until June 2020, (which has enabled us to live modestly). Now that Freyr is 18 years old, it is time to open up to the opportunities ahead and expand the potential reach of our project…
If you would like more information on how you, your family or your organisation can become involved, please Contact Us below.