November 20, 2016 Neal From

Back to Bali

There’s always a mix of emotions when leaving the country you call home. The transit time, the planned meals, the meat or fish, the eye masks and the airplane blankets. It’s meditative in a way, a surrender to the elements, maybe more aptly, the turbulence. But there’s an undeniable peace at 30 thousand feet, something magical about being in between places.Arriving in Bali was familiar, but with that familiarity came a new feeling, one of return. The first Bahasa words came out, tripping over themselves and falling into the ears of the taxi drivers that waited beyond baggage claim to scoop up tourists and take them to their hotels. I was here. Again.The members of our team that had arrived earlier in the week picked me up at the airport and we made our way back to Keramas. I felt myself searching for the familiar landmarks, seeing what had changed, feeling, with every kilometer, more and more that this was my home, or rather, that I belonged to it.We set up shop at our friend’s guesthouse, a small compound of three rooms, an outdoor kitchen and garden. This is where we will stay till we fly to Perth for training with The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia (RLSS). As many of you know, we have partnered up with  RLSS in order to streamline our survival swimming curriculum and to adapt their water safety programs to suit our needs here in Bali. We are very excited about the potential of this partnership and are so grateful to our hosts for giving us the opportunity to train with them.In other news, we have located a house which will operate as the home base of our operation over the next several months. It is in the heart of Keramas and will enable all of us, volunteers included, to be close to the pool where we will be teaching and the community that we hope to serve.Additionally, we are very happy to announce that we have a new team member that will be joining us this trip, our very own Dylan Sohngen. Dylan is a Los Angeles Life Guard and worked with me over the summer as a surf instructor in Santa Monica. Dylan is also a huge bug enthusiast so he’s pretty excited for our research trip to Kalimantan where he is sure to find some pretty gnarly insects.I also would like to take a moment to thank all of the incredible people that have made this, our second phase of implementation, possible. A huge shout out goes to The Children’s Fund of New York for their continued support of our program, they have been an incredible force pushing our entire organization forward and we would not be in the position we are today without their help and encouragement. Another huge thank you goes to all of the people that came to our Video Release Party in NYC. It was so fantastic to get to see all of the people that believe in our mission and to share the short film that we worked so hard to make during our last trip. And while we’re talking about it, another gigantic thank you to our film crew, 2:48 Productions, for the hundreds of hours they have spent both filming and editing to make that video what it is. Absolutely amazing. Haven’t seen it yet?Here’s a link: into the future, we will spend the next few weeks recruiting students for our survival swimming, water safety and CPR courses. With the help of our local coordinators, we will begin surveying communities in the area regarding drowning events and their interest in our newest program, day cares in high-risk communities. Additionally, we are teaming up with a local organization called No More Plastic Bags in an effort to decrease the amount of plastic garbage that washes into the sea. In this effort, our team, along with our volunteers and students, will be doing weekly beach cleanups. Wahoo!So, everything on this side of the world is looking good, we’re excited to get going and teach some children. Again, thank you so much to our supporters, our friends, and family, without you guys, none of this would be possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you.Sampai jumpa.-Neal