Kathryn Schlesinger has been a regular on this blog for quite some time.
Her husband Michael, sometimes known as Rambler 1959, (after the amazing vintage car he drives) is also a follower of the blog.
I met them both on this past trip to the US, and they were incredibly generous and welcoming. For me, the highlight of our time with them was when they took me to The Wedge – a very famous surfing beach, mainly for bodyboarders, because of the unique nature of the wave.
I grew up as a surfer on the Gold Coast, in southern Queensland, (Burleigh was my haunt, as was Kirra and Currumbin) and I remember seeing amazing pictures and surfing movies of The Wedge. So it was wonderful to see it for real after all these years.
Thank you once again Michael and Kathryn for a glorious day.
Kathryn at that stage was in early preparations for a trip to Bali, where she does regular charity work. I asked her if she’d be interested in doing a guest blog – even though it’s off topic of the Camino – but irrespective I thought it might be interesting.
(My current Indian trip is way off topic!)
So here is her post –
Strange how one thing leads to the next!
My husband and I are doing the Camino Frances in Stages. Even after our first short stage, the Camino magic changed our lives forever! And because one thing leads to the next, we started following Camino blogs, keeping the memories alive and our knowledge of the Camino growing. That is how we first came to know and love Bill and some of you! We have since done a 2nd stage and are dreaming of our 3rd.
Now, because one thing leads to the next, Bill invited me to share on his blog about another trip that changed our lives forever.
Six years ago Michael and I visited Bali for our 25th anniversary. I was post recovery from breast cancer and wanted a special place to get away from it all, to relax and feel healthy. It was a perfect choice. It was exotic, tropical, exciting – chaos in some places, but peaceful in most and all culturally new!
I fell in love with the people that were kind, calm and helpful. I was inspired by how their spirituality was continually exhibited in their daily living.
Again one thing leads to the next and the following year I found myself searching the Internet for a “service” trip that my young adult, surfer sons could do together. I found an organization that fit their time and talents in Bali but schedules changed and the boys could no longer get the same time off.
However I was hooked on the idea now. Luckily, I was able to get my little sister to go with me and could arrange to have my 2 younger children arrive with my husband a week later to help us.
Our destination was a beautiful village in a simple and remote lush area of Bali (3 hours from the flashy tourists in the south) The scent of cloves filled the air. (Both clove and coffee are the primary crops and income of the area, along with the rice that grows in the beautiful terraces on the hills.) We brought art projects to make and songs to teach, a lot of toothbrushes and suitcases full of school supplies.
It was a soul touching experience, both busy and joyful. Before leaving we learned that many children were not able to attend school because they could not pay for the uniforms, the fees, books and supplies. We offered to help 4 kids for the next year.
And as I said, one thing leads to the next!
Since then many friends have joined our efforts and now we have 48 students receiving ongoing sponsorship so they can attend school. ($120 a year covers all the school expenses and provides each student with a filled backpack )
Since then, we have returned annually, bringing art, songs and teaching oral hygiene. We bring all sponsored students backpacks full of helpful items and give them a party where we take a new picture to give to the sponsor.
We have been able to do teacher trainings, purchase storybooks for 7 schools, built playground equipment and opened a new kindergarten.