Transforming lives and communities by creating ‘the village’, with Piter Panjaitan

The team at Blue Illusion had the privilege of sitting down with Piter Panjaitan, Director of the Bali Life Foundation, in a recent interview. What ensued was an inspiring conversation about the beginnings of Bali Life and the exceptional work they do in transforming the lives of Bali's most vulnerable children. Piter’s passion and commitment to the countless projects Bali Life undertakes shone through as he explained to us, “It’s true what they say. It takes a village to raise a child”. Our team was moved by the foundation's aspirations and the incredible people behind it

“We don’t pray for an easy life. We pray for the strength to make a difference.” - Piter Panjaitan, Director of Bali Life

The story of how Bali Life was created is truly remarkable, dating back to 2006 when Indonesian native Piter’s sister, Siska, and her Australian husband, Brad, encountered a 9-year-old boy living on the streets of Kuta. Their desire to help, despite lacking the means, inspired them to start the orphanage. In 2010, while housing 2 children, they welcomed a third child found on the streets by a kind Balinese woman. As they got to know him, they realised he was the same child who had inspired them years earlier – whether labelled as coincidence or fate, it's evidence that something extraordinary is woven into the fabric of Bali Life.

In 2011, Donna visited Bali while travelling with her family. Their journey led them to Brad and Siska’s children's home, which sheltered 19 orphans at the time. Deeply moved by what she saw, Donna felt compelled to help. She initiated styling events to raise funds for Bali Life, marking the beginning of Blue Illusion’s involvement in this cause. The children's home is the core of Bali Life, it’s a sanctuary for children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or rejected which now houses up to 50 children at once – read more about it here.

Piter and his wife Lyna Panjaitan, took over the leadership in 2013 and under their dedicated guidance along with help from Blue Illusion and the generosity of those who can donate, the organisation has grown to include various projects that have positively impacted the lives of so many people.

Embodying Piter’s belief that ‘if you build a school, you build a community’, Bali Life set up its first education centre in 2014. With multiple centres now running, up to 100 children can attend local schools supplemented by Bali Life's educational workshops. Remarkably, all of this is achieved on a budget of just $100 USD per child per month, covering shelter, food, education, and healthcare—illustrating the significant impact even a modest donation can make. Whenever possible, the foundation strives to keep children with their families, offering support through education, health care, relief packages, and various other means.

“Family values are at the core of Bali Life, if we can keep a child with their family, we will do everything in our power to support that family and child to break out of the cycle of poverty.” - Piter Panjaintan

Another of the incredible projects Bali Life has undertaken in recent years is the establishment of its Street Centres. Despite its appeal as a beautiful tourist destination, Bali grapples with significant poverty, leaving many children extremely vulnerable to exploitation and forced into begging. The Street Centres aim to support these children and their families by offering two main programs: the Street Kids Informal School and the Bali Life Women’s Workshops. The former provides a safe space for children, while the latter empowers mothers by offering opportunities to create handicrafts and jewellery, providing these vulnerable women with a source of income. Find out more here.

Bali Life also established a community centre in Suwung, Bali’s largest landfill, which is just a short distance from popular tourist spots, including Seminyak. This 30-hectare trash mountain is home to over 100 families who sort through waste by hand to survive. The community centre offers a safe haven in the heart of this dumpsite, somewhere that children and their families can find support and a sense of community amidst the mountains of rubbish they are forced to call home. You can find further information on this project here.

These are not the only endeavours Bali Life has, their outreach also includes disaster relief efforts as well as a daycare centre. 40 children have now moved through the home and live independently, demonstrating the profound impact that compassion and commitment can have in changing lives and uplifting communities. In awe of what Bali Life has achieved over the years, our Head of Brand & Marketing, Indiana, recalled “Donna was right [Piter], you do what you say you’re going to do”.

With a vision to educate 10,000 children in 10 years, Piter, Lyna and the Bali Life team seem just about unstoppable. The Blue Illusion community is confident in Bali Life’s ability to create a brighter future for underprivileged Balinese children. This is why, On July 11th we’re hosting a nationwide styling event in all our boutiques with 7% of all proceeds from the day dedicated to the Bali Life Foundation. Every purchase contributes towards transforming the lives of underprivileged children and families in Bali – join us in helping such a worthy organisation as they pave the way for a poverty-free future. Read about their vision here.

You can RSVP to our event here or learn more about Bali life and donate directly here.