Handling COVID-19 in Bali needs the involvement of all parties, from broader stakeholders to individual community members. As the economic situation in Bali continues to decline due to the collapse of tourism, strengthening community connections is more important than ever in responding to the pandemic, including the expat community who has lived here in Bali for a number of years. Therefore, on August 7, 2021, IDEP held a webinar to provide space for the expats community to respond to the handling of COVID-19 in Bali.
This webinar created a platform for discussion between the local community, expats, and government about the pandemic response. The discussion was held via three media: Zoom, Facebook, and Youtube. Three of them were used to allow participants to express their opinions and ask questions to the speakers and responder. The speakers included Kadek Anna, a Balinese dancer from Russia, Charlie Knoles, who is as an agricultural developer, and Arie Rukmantara, a a government representative who is currently a member of COVID-19 Handling and Recovery National Economy Committee (KPC-PEN).
The discussion was long because the room became more empty when it was time for the KPC-PEN representatives to receive questions and opinions directly. Many aspects were discussed, such as people who used to work in the tourism sector. As an artist, Kadek Anna regrets the low support for artists in Bali, despite their strong contribution to the country’s income in the tourism sector before the pandemic. “At this time, we should support artists who are in the cultural sector, and also culture is essential for sustainable life,” said Kadek Anna.
This woman, who has lived in Bali for more than ten years, believes that culture and natural agriculture are fundamental in creating a sustainable life. These two aspects can contribute to public health, especially during the pandemic. “In responding to COVID-19, it is not only about how to tackle the COVID-19 with a vaccine, but also the nutritional aspect such as organic farming and good food,” said Kadek Anna.
During the first COVID-19 period, Charlie and his friends distributed healthy food to people in need. But in other activities, he feels constrained due to the bureaucratic system. Charlie wants to help more in providing medical equipment in hospitals, economic recovery and providing information about vaccines. “Bureaucratic impediment is the challenge for the expats to provide more help or involve or engage,” explains Charlie.
Ari Rukmantara, as a government representative, acknowledged the bureaucratic obstacles that are often faced by the community. He expressed his support for the many parties involved in responding to this pandemic particularly in relation to health protocol campaigns, information about vaccines, and support of people in need. Anna and Charlie also hoped that they could collaborate with several parties. “If there is anything I can do for this beloved island so that we can be healthy and happy again, I will help,” said Charlie as a closing statement in this online discussion. (Gd)