Helping hand across the sea
IT STARTED with a chance meeting with the owner of a holiday villa in Bali and has now become an annual gift-giving trip to a Balinese orphanage.
Three years ago travel agent Simon Crethar, of Byron Cruise and Travel, met Tanya from Villa Canderi who took him to a nearby orphanage run by three Catholic nuns.
Wanting to give back to the community where he had holidayed many times, Mr Crethar decided to make good use of his near empty suitcases waiting to be stuffed with local trinkets for the return trip.
“This year has been our third visit,” said Mr Crethar. “When we go every year on our family holiday we collect stuff, pack it up on our suitcases which are half empty, and give it to the kids.”
“It’s just nice doing something for them and seeing first-hand how it is benefiting them.”
In the months before their holidays, the Crethar family collect whatever they can find – books, stuffed toys, clothes and stationery.
“They are appreciative of anything, but unfortunately the airlines don’t give you any leeway in terms of weight so you can’t take too many books,” Mr Crethar said.
Earlier this year he mentioned his philanthropic work to several clients who were booking trips to Bali.
They were eager to help and took gifts to the orphanage – much to the delight of the 48 children who range in age from babies to 16 years.
“I just put it out there. It’s totally up to the clients because I don’t want to pressure anyone, but most are happy to take stuff over,” he said.
“I can arrange someone to pick the stuff up so they don’t have to do any running around, but most ask to take them to the orphanage themselves, which is fine because the kids like meeting people.”
Mr Crethar decided not to make donations through large organisations because he wanted to make sure his gifts got to the people for whom they were intended.
“The first time I went I offered the gifts to the nuns, but they said I should give them to the kids myself, which was terrific because you could see the joy on theirfaces,” he said.
“This year was the first time we took our three children. They got a lot out of it and it opened their eyes about how other people lived. You can see the difference in them now we’ve got home.”