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Like a Motherless Child

45,000 Balinese Children and Senior Citizens are Trying to Survive on their Own, Often on the Streets.

(1/22/2011) More than 24,600 children in Bali are abandoned and left to fend for themselves as street children, reports Beritabali.com. The children spend their young lives begging and aimlessly wandering the roads and side streets of an island known internationally as a lavish and luxurious paradise for the jet-setting crowd.

Many of these children are forced or choose to beg, seeking money on street corners to help supplement their family's income. Not unexpectedly, these same children are absorbed into a non-ending cycle of poverty as few have the wherewithal or the opportunity to pursue the education that could lead them out of poverty.

No less heartening is the stark reality that, as a natural consequence of their impoverished lives, many of these kids succumb to lives crime, prostitution and substance abuse.

Speaking to the press, the head spokesman for the provincial government of Bali, Ketut Teneng said that one of the biggest challenges facing the island's leaders is providing educational and training opportunities for street children. "If these children become 18 years of age they will be given skill training so they can escape unemployment. In this way, at least those without families or those abandoned by their families have a chance to go to school," said Teneng.

Teneng said the provincial government continues to support the "adoptive father" (Bapak Asuh) program in which members of the community sponsor school-age street children. This is one of the means by which Bali seeks to end functional illiteracy on the island.

At the other end of the equation, Bali also must contend with 19,500 abandoned or impoverished senior citizens requiring assistance and care. This group is comprised of aged islanders deserted by their families or living without any aid from surviving family members.