Teenagers Samara Welbourne of Australia and Tyas Latra of Bali are on a mission: they’re aiming to raise AUD $20,000 by April this year to build a library in Tyas’ village of Bungaya in the eastern Balinese regency of Karangasem. Despite being one of the world’s top holiday destinations, some areas of Bali – particularly in the east – remain relatively impoverished, with some villages still lacking sanitation, electricity, and health and education services. “The young people of the Bungaya village need this library to improve their English and education so they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty,” Samara said.

For the last two years Samara lived in Bali while her mother worked at Puspadi Bali, on the Australian Volunteers International (AVI) program. Puspadi, which helps over 4,000 clients with physical disabilities, runs Bali’s wheelchair program and also makes prosthetic limbs, will be managing the library project. Through its annual Direct Aid Program (DAP), the Australian Consulate-General has supported Puspadi for many years, and also through DAP has contributed $5,000 to the girls’ admirable fundraising endeavours.

Samara has a long history with libraries. When she was just 12-years-old she had her book How to Make Fairy Houses published by Boolarong Press. She gave 10% of the royalties to a children’s hospital and conducted free fairy house making classes at Sunshine Coast Libraries. Her fairy house classes became a viable small business through which she supported local charities. In 2014 Samara was named Sunshine Coast Young Citizen of the Year for her efforts, and her desire to continue her humanitarian work naturally extended to Bali.

Tyas, Sam and Freya, a member of the Sunshine Coast fundraising team. Photo: Samara Welbourne

“If we want peace and sustainability for our future, then we need to do what we can to assist less-fortunate nations, especially Indonesia as it is our closest neighbour. I feel the Australian-Indonesian relationship could be improved more effectively through the efforts of the next generation – Australian and Indonesian – coming together to make a difference,” Samara enthused.

The library was designed by Journeyman International, a platform connecting volunteer architects, designers, engineers and project managers with humanitarian project needs around the world. The library centre includes a small kitchen and bathroom, and a bale (traditional open pavilion). Said Samara of Journeyman International, “They loved our project so much the lead architect flew to Bali to meet us on the library site in the last school holidays.”

Samara is confident she and Tyas, along with Samara’s friends in the Sunshine Coast fundraising team, will have raised $14,000 by the end of March, leaving a shortfall of $6,000. If they’re able to reach their target, Samara will return to Bali with a group of teenagers from the Sunshine Coast to build the library in April. “While living in Bali I was involved in quite a few fundraising projects, such as helping to get a 13-year-old boy whose father had been paralyzed back to school, and also to support some animal refuges. I learnt that the Balinese are a wonderful group of people – gentle, resilient and grateful for what they have in life, and also fun loving!

During her time in Bali the thing that made the biggest impact on Samara was the realisation that, “it is so easy to make a difference – even for a teenager – so this is one of the things that drives me to do more.” Sam wants to spend every school holidays in Bali working on charity projects, but for now her full focus is on the Bungaya library.

For more information and to donate, head to their Go Fund: Me Bali Library page.