In the summer of 2019, I volunteered for three weeks in a small fishing village called Tianyar in Bali. I volunteered through an organisation called the Mighty Roar. North Bali Reef Conservation is a Non-Governmental Organisation and volunteering program based in the small fishing village of Tianyar on the North East coast of Bali. Tianyar’s reef has the potential to be a healthy and highly diverse coral reef but is currently in poor condition due to abusive and unsustainable actions in the past. Until the 1950s the Tianyar beach was a port for traders who used to anchor their ships on the reef. Before, it was also fashionable to harvest coral for it to be crushed into a fine white powder and used to show a family’s wealth when painted on the outside of their house. More recently, the marine ecosystem is under pressure from plastic pollution choking marine life as well as pressure from a few individuals using unsustainable fishing practices.
The three weeks away consisted of making cement structures out of cement, clay, sand and calcium every morning. The amount of cement we had was very limited during the morning and afternoon so we made structures until the cement ran out. This was usually around 12:30 pm depending on the volunteers available. At 1 pm we had lunch and then we started working again at 2 pm. We then had the choice of making the cement structures again or we could make tiles out of recycled plastic. Wednesdays involved getting the structures out of the ground and onto the fisherman's boats so that they could be thrown in the sea. Every Thursday morning we would dive down and move the structures into a pyramid formation. While volunteering I worked towards two diving qualifications which I can now use all around the world to continue exploring the deep sea.
My overall experience in Bali is something that I will never forget. I am so grateful for the help that I received from friends, family and people who I don’t know. Ultimately I helped restore the coral reef on the coast of Tianyar with the help of other volunteers from around the world. I was lucky enough to guide baby turtles to the sea, see a sea creature already finding its home in a structure that I made and see the fish which congregate around the artificial sea structures. I am eternally grateful for the support that was given by the Gerry Richardson Trust.