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Expatriates in Bali

13 Desember 2009

Expatriates have played a major role in the development of Balis tourism, a role that is continuing day by day. The expatriates have also contributed significantly to the social development of the island through scores of foundations and yayasans.

The expatriate in Bali differs greatly to the millions of other foreign nationals living and working away from their home countries around the globe. As one Bali expatriate puts it very succinctly: Expatriates in most place around the world are where they are because they have to be (jobs, marriage, and money), but they are in Bali because they want to be.

Bali possesses the basis for a tourist paradise a great climate, friendly people, a rich culture and many beaches. Expatriates have contributed knowledge; know how and capital, altogether with considerable dedication. The expatriate living in Bali has no interest in local politics, is in no way racist, has a zealous regard for fellow human beings, relishes a challenge and yet retains a patriotic fervor for his or her home country. In many cases the expatriate has been an achiever in his or her home country, is an individual who has little regard for Nanny States and can survive without government handouts and a massive social security system.

Many of the successful tourist attractions in Bali have had a major expatriate involvement such as white water rafting, the elephant park, the Bird Park, cruise, golf, adventure activities including diving, restaurants, and naturally star rated hotels and more recently villa developments. It is common knowledge that about seventy percent of tourist oriented restaurants have had some expatriate involvement, whether it is through capital or hands-on design and management.

The training of Balinese in all aspects of tourism has been mainly through expatriates. In most cases the expatriate remains for a period of time then moves on basically back to the home country but leaves behind his knowledge and integrity and most cases considerable capital.

A small fortune in Bali There is an old expatriate muse: To make a small fortune in Bali, you first must bring a big fortune here. Besides the cynicism of the quip, most expatriates leave Bali content with their individual achievements and with the satisfaction that it is something not achievable in their home country.

The touch of the expatriate has left its mask on many different aspects of Balinese life. The tragic bombings in Kuta in 2002, really showed the metal of expatriates along with the massive support from their home countries. The Kuta bombing occurred just prior to midnight and by 5 am the next morning the first Australian mercy flight complete with medical supplies, emergency support staff and medical evacuation facilities for the injured had landed at Balis airport. Scores of expatriates worked long hours in the hospital, the morgue and with the walking wounded. However the massive support came in the aftermath.

Many foundations were established or activated to support the victims, which continue to operate to his day. Funds were established to pay for education (to university level) to the children of Indonesian victims. Foundations cared for and offered medical assistance for bums victims, eye damage and generally helping local people assimilate to the return to normal life.

The Australian federal police even created more expatriates by stationing officers in Bali to help with bringing the bomb perpetrators to justice and helping with security. Although the official death figure from the bombing was 202, a group of expatriate women spent years trying to identify victims by touring hundreds of villages, investigating missing family reports and attempting to correlate them with unidentified victims who were not included in the official tally of deaths.

Bali depends on tourism While Bali depends on tourism for more than 70 percent of its gross income, expatriates have contributed greatly to industry on the island in creating exports and export markets in textiles, furniture, handicrafts, stone, clothing and even natural products such as vanilla. This expatriate leadership has provided thousands of employment opportunities for local people who help Bali to sustainability away from tourism which can wane on international moods and fortunes.

Sport is another area where expatriates have come to the forefront through foundations and yayasans to coach, train, encourage and support local endeavors in cricket, rugby, surfing, windsurfing, tennis, soccer, Australian rules, yachting and cycling are but to name a few that have benefited from expatriate involvement. There is even a foundation to guide young hopefuls in the music industry.

There is also more than 15 international schools which educate expatriate and local children with highly qualified and trained expatriate teachers. Australian John Fawcett is probably the highest expatriate achiever through the John Fawcett Foundation. He has worked tirelessly for more than 17 years in the health arena and to date has saved the sight of more than 20,000 Balinese people through eye cataract operations.

Generally expatriates dont seek thanks, praise or recognition however it would be worthy of the government of Bali to recognize the contribution of expatriates by celebrating Expatriate Day once a year. Expatriates are not all angels and there have been some at times that have strayed away from the norms, as in any society. It was Singapores iron firsted Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew who recognized the value of the expatriate and utilized them to help build the highest per capital economy of any county in Asia.