The non sharing of wealth!
Dear Madam, dear sir, dear friends, dear family,
Allow me to share with you these lines… With much emotion, unhappiness, anger but also with much love, I wish to have a reflection on sharing, following an insane tragedy:
The suicide by ingestion of poison, of a whole family in the area of Buleleng, North of Bali Island. Reason of the suicide: Poverty.
On the day when one only think of himself, when hordes of tourists spend tens of millions of dollars to only distract themselves, on the day when paunchy (or not) foreigners share nothing of their earnings from their legal or simply (sometimes) illegal business, on the day when thousands of foreigners emigrate to Indonesia to work, growing richer and richer in an (often) inappropriate and (sometimes also) disrespectful way meanwhile in the most total anonymity, real tragedies unfold… Such a pity huh?
A tragedy of the 21st century in a country where suicide is taboo, unrecognized by the institutions; yes my dear friends yesterday a whole family gave itself death because it could not eat any more, could not be looked after any more, could not provide any more for its needs. This family could just not stand it anymore… Another tragedy lived by a community, but also by our small humanitarian foundation which however tries so hard to prevent that such events still occur. We however continue, in joy, with much joy and hope.
Few days ago, a loving mom and dad and their two very young children mortally poisoned themselves because they couldn’t find the force anymore to fight to eat. As a result, they succeeded, they will never never be hungry again. It makes me want to vomit somehow, sorry to say…
What a dreadful tragedy isn't it? A final solution as well as a radical one but such a despairing and irrational one also; just let’s try to imagine this for a minute my friends! Put ourselves a their place for an instant. Here or there, today, how is this still possible?
Of course, here people are poor and have been for years. This poverty keeps growing always and always. The inequalities have never been so outrageous in the world today and the gap between “the rich and the poor” is more abyssal than ever. So imagine in the most destitute countries…
The richest 1% hold from now on 50,1% of the world heritage and their enrichment will not benefit the poorest… Globalization, deregulation or absence of rules, disproportionate ambition… This exacerbates the capacity of the rich and powerful to use their authority to concentrate even more their wealth. Here is the problem my friends.
Did you know for example that the most prescribed drugs by our medical teams here with the Foundation are related to food deficiencies? Did you know that we make thousands of donations of healthy food per year to families who cannot buy anything? That we take care of tens of thousands of sick patients per year? That we prescribe for free certainly a weight higher than 1,000 kilos of drugs per year? This is only possible because we give back all that we gain! And it is a genuine happiness to do it. A joy to work to this end.
Who is responsible for this? But it is simply our fault, we are all a little bit responsible for it. Some of us really hide well from it don’t they? It is so easy to avoid sharing, to say nothing, so easy to live as wealthy whereas here, very close to us, families commit suicides just to avoid the suffering of dying of hunger.
What a shame, I am ashamed of us and this mentality which makes us selfish to the point where we let our neighbors die of hunger, or leave a child locked up in a cage during the entirety of his life. What is this world? Who have we become to let this happen before our eyes?
Of course a minority of us act and I know many who make formidable things to relieve those who suffer, but as I said, they are a minority whereas all, yes I say all of us together, we can make a large and fundamental difference. But do we simply really want it? Are we all ready to give or give back a little or a lot of what we have or what we make thanks to our work?
I remember having learned from a past experience that if we all decide to give back 0.1% of our benefits and profits, then we would offer free care to the whole population in need and this at the level of the World… 0.1% my friends.
A small reminder nevertheless to all those who grow excessively rich in disrespect and inequity: Some of our research, compared with the figures of the OMS concluded that Indonesia (including the area of Bali), has the 5th larger number of “stunted” children in the world. It’s more than 1 child out of 3 (or 37%) have a delay of growth.
This means that 9.5 millions of children less than 5 years-old suffer from malnutrition and don’t have access to healthcare. This is more than 3 millions (or 12%) of children less than 5 years-old in Indonesia weighing largely lower than their ideal curve of weight (Ndla: IMC – This interpretation, contrary to the adult, is not linear with the child).
That in the rural areas, nearly 2 children out of 3, less than 2 years-old (57%), are weakened. That only 42% of older children less than 6 months old are exclusively nursed and that less than 36% of children consume suitable food supplements.
The case of this family which commits suicide to not suffer from poverty anymore, it is obviously not an isolated case, but the fall is so brutal and shocking because it is final and does not offer any other possible alternative other than drawing me to write these lines hoping to make us all reflect on this situation. What are the solutions for tomorrow?
Certainly, many others die from having nothing, die from not being able to buy vegetables, fruits… and we must act to find equitable ways for all to share our wealths. Of these families in suffering, I know so many, I saw so many situations of this type who fortunately did not reach the point of suicide.
But with all my abnegation, I refuse to stand by and I completely refuse to say (or to tell myself) that this is fate because absolutely nothing is fatal in the fact of dying of hunger and having to commit suicide to shorten one’s own sufferings. My God…
I am in shock, we had alerted the appropriate authority, we had planned with the local authorities one day of Community care in this particular village and of course, this family as so many others was part of those we follow and help, or were going to help. To this extent I want to thank the local government for its profoundly void actions, these politicians largely elected thanks to inflows of bribe cash. An ideal of inefficiency which I raise almost every time. This is why we as as well as others, have decided to bring a different kind of help to the table.
It reminds me of something: a few weeks ago, as I was having a discussion with the Governor of the Island of Bali, Mr. Manku Pastika during his visit to the Foundation with all his ministers (including the minister of health and social affairs), I remember his incredible words during a meeting of free care Community in Bangli, during which a medical team of Fair Future Foundation NGO (made up this day of 5 doctors, 8 nurses and 10 other people of our organization of which young people of the Fair Warung Balé) had had the joy of caring for nearly 500 patients for free that day.
While the Governor Mr. Manku Pastika was looking at us working, he engaged me in Indonesian: “- But Alex, why are there so many people coming here to get healthcare? It is incredible! ”. I was so shocked by this question so absurd as well as unexpected, especially coming from the highest ranking official of the province. Shocked but finally also moved by his confession: He does not know, he does not know anything of all this, and he discovers misery at his own doorstep… Funny not? But not so astonishing in fact.
My first reaction was thus to challenge him so I answered to him straight away: « -But Mr. Governor, you should know! You are the one in charge and are responsible for healthcare here, not me. So I should be the one asking you this question shouldn’t I? Why have we had 1,000 patients in 2 working days on site? 1,000 sick patients and without any resources to look after oneself? Can you answer me Mr. Governor? ”.
And well Mister Governor did not know or couldn’t or didn’t want to answer me. Instead he turned over towards his Minister of Health, who smiled at me awkwardly and politely, raising his shoulders, while urging me to visit his office in Denpasar to discuss my solutions or so that we could at least find together an answer to the famous question of his head of government. To this date, I am still awaiting for his telephone call and invitation…
Nevertheless an interesting discussion followed on the living conditions of the poor populations, the evolving factors of poverty and thus of increasing misery, of the problems of contaminated water responsible for congenital diseases, and according to our own observations of the means so easy to implement to help those who cannot take it any more. Because the means exist and no need for much to get there… Self-sufficiency!
The extreme situation of poverty is obviously not unusual here. But what I want to point out (without blaming), is that overall the high political spheres ignore the social issues. Sometimes they are not even aware of what is happening in their area. After all, let’s no forget that everywhere in Indonesia, the majority of people do not have access to free medical care, that more than 90% of people do not have health insurance. That the healthcare system of Indonesia does not even provide the most elementary care to vast layers of the population. As I said in a former publication “ local population remains very vulnerable to malnutrition and cannot, for a vast majority, have access to medical care and to basic health”.
This family drama is thus not a real surprise, It does not take away anything of its tragic and unacceptable aspect, it goes without saying.
Let us find the ways to allow us to share, give back a part of our profits, our time, our things too. Look at the Fair Warung Balé, the villas of the Foundation and another program which will open soon and go in this same direction: Small endeavours which save lives, which allow about sixty young people to live and icing on the cake, which offer free care to more than 30.000 people per year, which build a hospital for children and many other complementary things like these famous 5,000 kilos of drugs prescribed for free per year, all this medical equipment, wages of our medical teams of course etc…
A path to follow, one among others: Equity, self-sufficiency aiming to equitable redistribution of wealth, and by all means, the wiseness to be self-content of the bare necessities. Today, if the Fair Warung Balé were mine, I would be rich, I would have a house, savings, a car, I would eat out every day and I would travel…
Today my wealth and my happiness are to offer assistance with what I know how to do best : To offer my trust, to cure, smile, love and give. And I’ve done it for free for years. That frankly is pure Joy.
I do not own a car, nor a house, have no savings and I rarely go out to a restaurant (except the Fair Warung Balé obviously). My other wealth and my great happiness is to want to pursue helping, building other hospitals, other clinics, but also to continue on this path of equitable trade in which 100% of the benefits are redistributed in social or medical programs.
Then together, all together let us make the difference and give back to those who do not have our good fortune. In return, your only wages will be a smile. For me it is plenty enough.
Alex Wettstein (Chat available) - Founder / President of the Fair Future Foundation - A Swiss State Approved Foundation.