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" Live simply - so that others may simply live"

M. K. Gandhi

 
  ibu_en_pak_oka_-_croppedBackground

For those not familiar with us, we are a community organisation that has been active since 1976 despite the passing of our revered founder Ibu (madame, mother or Mrs in 'bahasa' Indonesia) Gedong Bagoes Oka (1921 - 2002). It is now being run by the trusted confidants of Ibu with the support her six sons, particularly through their generous consent for the continued use of the Candidasa land for Ashram's purposes. This was a commitment, in line with the wishes of the late Pak (short of Bapak for father or Mr in bahasa) and Ibu I Gusti Bagoes Oka (pictured around the time the Ashram was founded, courtesy Ms. Charlotte Borggreve, then a young guest of the family), given to Ibu during her last days before her passing.

 

Activities

The Ashram is pursuing its stated vision at many levels. In the local community the focus is on delivering actual health and education services through its well established Nature Cure Health Clinic (acupuncture and traditional herbal medicine), introducing Gandhian ideals to the Ashram run kindergarten and to its own cadres of Ashram's young members. At the regional and provincial levels the Ashram name is still respected from its principled stands back to Ibu's days and has recently been enhanced by the election of Pak I Nyoman Sadra - her protege, right hand man and former long time Chair of the Ashram since her passing till 2009 - to the parliament of eastern Bali regency of Karangasem. At the national and international levels it is more about the promotion of Gandhian ideas and values by working together with a network of similar minded Gandhian, inter-faith and peace organisations.

The Ashram has hosted numerous symposiums and workshop on these over the years and its leadership is actively engaged in the all critical inter-faith initiatives in Indonesia, largely through its close cooperation with a much respected Indonesian interfaith organisation called Interfidei. Ibu was a prominent co-founder and former vice-president of World Conference of Religions for Peace and a trustee of Sarvodaya International Trust (note a picture of Ibu in the middle of the group photo), to name a couple. In the latter, after she passed away she was replaced by Pak I Nyoman Sadra who has been with Ibu since the Ashram's inception and a village and community activist in his own right.

  The 'Economics'

The Ashram derives its income for daily upkeep primarily from paying guests and general/project specific donations for capital works. The much more expensive tertiary education funding is raised and managed separately by the tireless friend of the Ashram, the NZ based Pak Terry Cox.  In return the members work outside school hours to maintain the upkeep of the Ashram and the bungalows for the paying guests. They also help during the seed planting and harvesting of the Ashram's offsite farms that are otherwise tilled with nonviolent or organic farming methods by tenant farmers with the Ashram sharing some of the produce such as beans, nuts or rice.

The members have a strict routine of puja or pray time four times a day plus English, general or yoga lessons with the guests when they are not at school. Generally the young Ashram members have an advantage in English through these lessons and through interaction with the guests at the Ashram, plus the confidence that is very much reflected in their generally good report cards with some at or near the top of the class, therefore enhancing their future employment prospects in Bali considerably. 

Whilst the Candidasa Ashram is our main full-functioning ashram we do have two other ashrams with somewhat reduced activities namely the GGA Vydiapith in Denpasar (Bali) and Yogyakarta (Central Java). These ashrams mainly housed our university student members, some are 'graduates' from the Candidasa Ashram who are continuing their studies on Ashram's facilitated scholarships, but there are others who are self-funding students who are attracted to the Ashram life and get free accommodation in return. The Denpasar Ashram is on a freehold site whereas the Yogyakarta Ashram has the house's annual lease paid for by Gedong Gandhi Ashram, or by donation from one of Ibu's sons.

 

Personnel & Organisation

Since about mid last year 2009 Ibu Mas Mayuni, an unassuming retired school teacher from a nearby village of Budakeling, a cousin of the sons and a respected and close confidant of Ibu and her supporter throughout Ibu's works, was elected as the new Chair of the Ashram. By choice and partly due to her limited English she has been involved with the internal affairs of the Ashram where she has been a real asset and 'acquisition' for the Ashram. Her serene, calm and caring disposition along with her compassionate leadership role as a model school principal have equipped her well and her contribution in improving 'simply' the Ashram's  esprit de corps is never to be underestimated. Many comments from guests, old friends and members of the Ashram merely confirmed this.

Meanwhile at about the same time Pak Sadra has been elected to the Karangasem Regency's Parliament where he has been a shining beacon in keeping the governments, and the parliament itself, accountable in adhering to the proper governance processes. This is something that would have made his reformist and principled mentor, the late Ibu Gedong, very proud indeed as, further more, it also means the definite leveraging in our effort to  introduce Ashram and Gandhian values into the offices of local, regional, provincial and even national government bodies.

However, despite his incredible official work load Pak Sadra is still the Vice Chair and is still very much part of the Ashram. He deals with and represent the Ashram externally, still the practising acupuncturist at the clinic (as the other, Uki Ruktini, is now taking greater responsibility) and, by passion coming from a family of traditional builder, is still involved with the building side that has delivered many new and renovation projects at very competitive prices.

Ibu Mas and Pak Sadra of course can not do things by themselves and are ably assisted by long time members that old friends of the Ashram will be familiar with namely Jata (building & maintenance), Sitep (kitchen), Kawidana (yoga, admin, 'home' education of young members), Uki Ruktini (clinic, admin), Komang Karsa (transport & general upkeep), Wenten (housekeeping) and our resident 'mascot' Cebur.

These senior members are now ably assisted by the younger school-age members. They mostly come from poor rural families and seem to want to be there and extremely hardworking for the opportunity to study and better their prospects.

 


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