PUSPADI Bali was established in 1999 with the vision of developing services to support some of the island’s most disadvantaged People With Disabilities. To date, PUSPADI Bali is the only organisation in Bali providing complete services, with ongoing follow up to the physically disabled, covering not only the medical side of rehabilitation, but also education and vocational training.
History of PUSPADI Bali (formerly YAKKUM Bali 1999 to 2013)
I Nengah Latra is the Founder of PUSPADI Bali (formerly YAKKKUM Bali from 1999–2013) and from Karangasem in East Bali, which is one of the island’s poorest regions. At the age of 19, Latra suffered a tragic accident from a kerosene explosion, fusing his arm to his torso. He locked himself away for two years after the accident and avoided human contact because of the shame from his disability. Later, Latra came into contact with a field worker from YAKKUM Yogyakarta, a non-profit rehabilitation centre in East Java.
From there, Latra received surgery and treatment and regained the use of his arm and hand. He completed rehabilitation and was employed by YAKKUM Yogyakarta, eventually working his way up to senior manager. Through his duties, Latra took many rehabilitation trips to Bali and saw large numbers of people with disabilities on the island in great need, who were hiding away in embarrassment because they believed that their condition was a punishment from the Gods. After a decade working at YAKKUM Yogyakarta, Latra had saved enough money to return to Bali and begin providing much-needed support to local people with physical disabilities.
On his return to Bali, he bought an old car (which he used as his home, office and ambulance for the next four years) and drove all over the island, searching for people with physical disabilities who were hiding away in their homes or villages. In those early days, he would assess their needs and source a wheelchair or other mobility aids such as crutches. Or he’d assist a local child with a disability who never had an education to go to school.
Since then PUSPADI Bali has expanded its team and they have helped countless number of people with physical disabilities in Bali and Eastern Indonesia, to regain control of their life and independence as well as lead productive, fulfilling lives. The organisation’s staff regularly travel out in the field to find more people with a disability in need of prosthetics, orthotics, mobility aids, wheelchairs, or other support. As well as being recognised as one of the leading NGOs in Bali providing disability support, Pak Latra and staff also strongly advocate for disability rights (PERDA) to be enforced at a local level so people with a disability are treated equally and have access to jobs, educational opportunities and are included in their communities.
YAKKUM Yogyakarta was founded by Colin McLennan, a New Zealander, in 1982. Years later, Colin helped Latra start PUSPADI Bali. Janice Mantjika who came to Bali in 1964, has also been a longtime supporter, board member and ambassador of PUSPADI Bali.
Over the years, Latra with the support of Colin and Janice, successfully petitioned for funding and received a grant from the British Embassy and space from Bali’s government. This led to the founding of PUSPADI Bali in 1999. PUSPADI Bali blossomed through foreign aid until the Bali terror bombings of October 2002, which led many non-Indonesians to flee the island, including some of the organisation’s key funders.
In 2003, Mark Weingard, founder of Inspirasia Foundation, connected with Latra through the help of Rucina Ballinger (then CEO of YKIP) and a partnership began.
Through the support of the foreign community and the Inspirasia Foundation, PUSPADI Bali has already changed the lives of thousands of people with disabilities and their families, in Bali, Java, and the more remote islands of Lombok, Sumba and Flores in Eastern Indonesia.
Latra and PUSPADI Bali staff (75 per cent of whom have a physical disability) no longer hide their scars and are focused on empowering others with physical disabilities to reach their full potential and lead productive lives.
In 2013, YAKKUM Bali decided to change its name to PUSPADI Bali (Pusat Pemberdayaan Disabilitas = Centre for Empowerment of People with Disabilities) to reflect the current and future direction of the organisation.