GLA’s Global Health Initiative program is a primer for studying medicine or public health in the developing world. A university-level program, it’s designed to give a progressive experience— challenging preconceptions of health with new experiences, and guidance from attending medical and public health professionals working in the field.
Global Health Initiative Itinerary
Please note: Activities may happen on different days due to weather or community needs. This is a tentative itinerary.
|1||Arrival Day – GLA Students Arrive in Bali
|14||Departure Day – GLA Students Depart from Bali
Om swastiastu from Bali!
All of our leaders but one arrived safe and sound today (we can’t wait to meet you, Victoria!), though exhausted from their long ride. After a Balinese welcome, with flowers behind their ears and freshly-cut coconuts to drink from, the students were introduced to Kaya House, their home base in Ubud. Dinner was a quick affair–everyone was eager for a shower and a good night’s sleep. Looking forward to our first full day tomorrow as we explore the language and culture of Bali, and get a feel for our neighborhood of Mas.
Today was day two of the trip and the first day of really experiencing a whole new culture. Some of us started our day off bright and early with being awakened by the sounds and music of the morning offering in the temple.
After breakfast we began our trek to the world known rice paddies of Bali. Our leaders from Bali Institute explained how they work and how rice farming is a community job. The rice farmers follow the subak which connects the all the farmers and explains the rules of everyone helping each other with the farming. After our tour of the rice farms we then drove about 20 minutes to our next destination, Tirta Empul Temple.
Once we arrived we received a demenstration on how to put on our sarongs (these wrap like fabrics that must be worn in the temple). We then began our immersion into the culture of the temple and the people of Bali. We began by making an offering to a spirit of a giant banyan tree. After we completed our offering and were welcomed into the temple we walked through the entry way and into a giant open courtyard type are with a pond of Koi fish (see picture 2). We were taken to the holy water spring in which we got blessed with the water. Everyone gets in and wades in the water to be blessed. We then were lucky enough to participate in a prayer ritual. We were brought in to a sacred place meant for praying and we received offering of flowers and rice (pictures above).
We followed a five step prayer. The first was a prayer with empty hands to cleanse our soul and mind. The second step was to pray with the white flower asking Bhatara Surya, god of sun, for permission and blessing. The third step was a prayer with the mixed flower or “kwangen” which was for or ancestors. The fourth was with mixed flowers or “Kwangen” again and this was for our wishes. The last was empty hands for wishing our spirits to always be clean and for peace for everyone. We then got blessed with holy water in which we drank for our hands three times and on the fourth we washed our hair and face. The priests then gave us rice in which we placed on our forehead and collarbone and three pieces were to eat. After that we said “om shanti shanti shanti om”, meaning closing for the prayer.
After that we were released to shop in the market and we got to try our hand at bargaining for goods. We then traveled to Mt. Batur for lunch at Kintamani. We had a delicious Indonesian lunch of rice, noodles, vegetables, fruits, and many more. After bonding over our meal and amazing view we came back to Kaya house to rest before heading out again. Around 3 we headed to the medical school to have our introduction into our service work.
We arrived at STIKes (the school) and were greeted with beautiful flower leis and were brought up to a conference room in which we were treated to the local welcoming mask dance. The medical students introduced themselves and Bali as they know and love. We then recieved our schedule for the next three days and were given a tour of the lab that they use to study. We then had a magnificent meal and we got to get to know our Bali colleagues. The med students sang some amazing songs and we taught them some American dances such as the “Cotton Eyed Joe” and the “Cha Cha Slide”. After that we went back to Kaya house and went to sleep after our long day of experiencing the new culture.
With Day Three began our first days of service here in Bali, we woke up bright and early and headed out to two different local banjars (a community gathering place) in the village of Mas. There, we were joined by the STIKes students to accompany us on our house visits. These house visits allowed us to experience the friendly environment of Bali firsthand, as we were eagerly welcomed into every household. The people of Mas allowed us to fill out surveys regarding the cleanliness and overall health status of each family unit by answering questions for us and allowing us to take their blood pressure. We were taught how to manually take a person’s blood pressure and the 6 steps of washing hands. After a short lunch break at the banjar, it was decided that we would conduct house visits again for the remainder of the afternoon, giving us a chance to bond with our STIKes students. When the service came to an end, many of us were able to visit a local store and load up on Balinese candy, ice cream, spicy chips, and other junk foods. We then retired to our homestay after a long day of exploring Mas and its people. Before we fell asleep, Lloyd led us all in a 30-minute meditation session to clear our minds before reflecting on our first day of service in our journals. Most of us fell asleep during the session (oops) and found it a lot easier to sleep later in the night.
Our second day of service began with by discussing and revising the survey we had used the day before with the STIKes students. We talked about what questions may offer better insight into the health status of Mas and what questions and topics we believed to be important. We then began home visits again, this time using our revised survey with the added questions. After attempting to converse in Balinese with local residents and becoming experts at taking blood pressure, we then inputted our findings into a spreadsheet to help us better understand the health issues facing Mas. A few of us headed to the store yet again to stock up on more Balinese junk food before heading back to the homestay to get some rest.
The last day of service focused on the elderly citizens of Bali, as we held community health checks at two banjars. In the morning, we were able to watch the STIKes students and their advisors perform the duties required at each station and after lunch, we were able to take over for them. Some of us assisted in helping the elderly register for the health check, getting a chance to review the Balinese language while others were able to practice their newly acquired blood pressure skills or record the height and weight of the patients. A few were able to calculate the blood sugar and uric acid levels of the participants by drawing their blood and the rest passed out a healthy snack of coconut milk and lentils to the elders.
Throughout the week we went from house to house with our STICKes medical students to give health advice and gather data. Although we were supposed to be teaching the locals how to properly wash their hands and prevent high blood pressure, we learned a lot more from them than they learned from us. As our research progressed we observed the trash problem in Bali and the rising rates of hypertension and diabetes. Beyond that, we learned that not everyone lives their lives the way we do in America–and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We took note of their compassion and openness when they happily invited us into their homes and appreciated the little Bahasa Indonesian that we managed to speak. After the rewarding service work, it was time for a weekend getaway to experience more of Bali.
Going to Amed was a big change from Mas. The city streets were traded for black sand, Kaya house was replaced with beach bungalows, and the driven attitudes transitioned into ones more focused on building friendships. To start off, we woke up at 4:30 am (not an appreciated time for highschoolers), to embark on our snorkelling adventure. In groups of three, we hopped on spider boats and sailed towards the snorkelling site. As the sun began to rise, we also began to put on our masks and flippers. Once the gear was on, we jumped into the salty water. Below us, there was a Japanese shipwreck from WWII along with lots of coral and fish. The rest of the day consisted of a visit to the jungle healer, a game of beach volleyball with the locals, and a dance party at bungalow one. On Monday morning we left Amed and drove three hours back to Mas.
As much fun as we had at the beach, no one expected how great the tour at the birth clinic would be. For two and a half hours we talked to 2011 Hero of the Year Award winner Robin Lynn. Her influencial discussions about everything from midwives to post-natal care taught us so much about what health really means and what we can accomplish as a generation. As cheesy as it sounds, she further validated our purpose in health and with GLA.
-Hannah and Emma