Spotlight On BAWA, Volunteering In Bali.

Gap year volunteering in Bali with BAWA

I want to preface this article by stating that I am an absolutely devoted animal lover, I always have been, and during all of my travels over the last ten years or more if I see a chance to help or support a genuine organisation who are there to help animals of any kind then I will take it.

I have seen so many organisations over the years that are doing fantastic work in animal conservation and protection. On the downside to that I have also come across so many profit making organisations that use terms such as animal sanctuary as a front for their business and care only for profit and tourism, not the animals, and because of them I have an almost instinctive distrust now of most places that claim to help animals until I have investigated further, especially if they are part of the faux voluntourism trend.

I’m glad to say BAWA is so far removed from that end of the spectrum.

The Bali Animal Welfare Organisation (BAWA) is based in Bali, Indonesia, and is an amazing non profit organisation that does a lot of essential and much needed work to help the dogs and cats of Bali.

If you are staying for any length of time in Ubud then you are perfectly located to visit or spend a bit of time with the awesome volunteers at BAWA. They have a shop face on Monkey Forest road and a clinic just a short walk away, (near to Villa Kitty), they also run a 24 hour animal ambulance and a street feeding van that both try to cover as much of Bali as possible.

They inoculate, feed, spay and home Bali’s dogs and cats with a strong foster and rehoming programme, and do a lot to try and relieve animal suffering and overpopulation and minimise the spread of rabies in Bali.

The clinics and the ambulance service are vastly underfunded and under resourced, but are doing an absolutely remarkable and wonderful job despite this thanks to the skill and dedication of both its permanent and volunteer staff.

Gap year volunteering in Bali with BAWA

Bali’s Dog ‘problem’.

Bali and Indonesia in general have a huge problem with unwanted, abandoned and feral dogs roaming the streets and unfortunately part of this is due to the way dogs in particular are viewed in Balinese society. There are deeply ingrained cultural beliefs based on the animism aspect of Balinese Hinduism that dogs are demonic entities, the undesirables, and unworthy of any care or attention. On a practical level this means that at best many people view dogs as nothing, as not worth the time or money to care for. They really are seen as simple functional tools, to be used as security or even food and then forgotten about.

Thankfully not every Balinese citizen is like this however, many are in fact extremely caring and loving towards animals. This aspect of their culture is simply one factor that does have an influence on the mistreatment of animals.

The Rabies problem.

Alongside this general mistreatment of dogs and cats is a growing problem with rabies.  This has led to the unfortunate and ineffective mass cullings of dogs in the last few years, but this is completely pointless, barbaric and inhumane, and BAWA is fighting an uphill struggle with combined education and inoculation programmes to control the disease instead.

But  despite all this it is heart warming to know that some people do care, and BAWA has done a lot to restore my faith that there are people in Indonesia that are motivated to help these adorable animals. I know that dogs and cats aren’t the ‘A list’ animals that so many voluntourism poseurs come looking for so they can get a nice profile picture of them cuddling a baby tiger or an orang utan (another topic that gets me right on my soap box!) But that does not mean they are any less deserving of our help. That does not mean they are any less worthy. The dogs and cats of Bali really do benefit in so many ways from the kindness and care of those who work at BAWA, and the support given by so many locals and travellers, because BAWA really is a not for profit NGO that relies on the kindness and donations of it’s supporters.

Gap year volunteering in Bali with BAWA

My own experience with BAWA was bittersweet as it usually is in any true animal charity or sanctuary. It is heartbreaking to see the condition that some of the cats and dogs are found in and hear some of their stories. The illnesses, injuries and general mistreatment and malnourishment of the cats and dogs is soul shattering, and that unfortunately is not an exaggeration. The confused mixture of anger, disgust, sorrow and pity at how anyone can treat an animal like this is by now an unfortunate familiarity.

But then when you see these gorgeous animals being treated well at BAWA that mixture of negative emotion is completely turned on its head. It is still heartbreaking to see them hurt or injured, but it is at the same time completely uplifting to see them on the mend, to see them treated well, with love and respect. It is heartwarming to see how happy they were to have some love and attention from people who truly do care about them and have a passion for animals at the same time. It was amazing to see the dogs and cats so happy just to be fed and housed in nice conditions, just to be treated with care and compassion. 

The pens and facilities at BAWA really are excellent and it was so heartwarming to see the animals treated as best they could be, especially so considering the limited resources they have. They are not perfect of course, and there is a huge need for donations to help improve and expand the facilities there, but the pens were all spotlessly clean, comfortable and relatively spacious, and allowed the dogs and cats to live quite happily where they played with donated toys, slept on donated beds and blankets and ate donated food and treats.

I also had the fortune of stopping by their headquarters on Monkey Forest road a few times, it was just round the corner from the homestay I was staying at, and spoke to the dedicated and passionate volunteers at length about the work they were doing there (and spent a considerable amount of time playing with the dogs and cuddling the beautiful and sadly blind Maya who is absolutely spoilt with attention and treats!). The headquarters is part business centre and part shop, so one of the easiest ways to help them is simply to drop by and pick up a trinket or three, I don’t care if you don’t need a postcard or a fridge magnet, and it doesn’t really matter that the T shirts they have don’t fit you, buy them anyway! It helps a lot knowing that every single penny – without exception – gets funneled straight back to the animals welfare.

Gap year volunteering in Bali with BAWA

Villa Kitty,

BAWA doesn’t just concentrate on dogs however, there is also a huge problem of abandoned and mistreated cats in Bali, and they make great efforts to care for their feline charges as much as the canine ones. Villa Kitty, a shelter housing 80 cats and kittens at Lodtunduh in Ubud, is a sister company of BAWA. It was originally formed as part of the association itself and has now grown out of necessity into an entity in its own right, with the plight of abandoned cats and kittens becoming ill, injured or dying growing year after year.

The first time I visited it took me a little while to find Villa Kitty, even despite the excellent directions given to me at BAWA’s headquarters, because I walked right past the deceptive little pathway off the main road, and carrying bags full of food, toys and other supplies on a hot and particularly humid day wasn’t ideal! But it was more than worth it when I finally did find it, just knowing I had done even the tiniest thing for these poor, gorgeous animals was enough.

Villa Kitty is only a small place, but infinitely welcoming as the staff are genuinely passionate about caring for the cats and kittens there, and it truly does show. The pen area was absolutely wonderful to see too, and just like the home of their canine counterparts, despite the serious underfunding of the organisation the cats had really good, clean and spacious areas to run around and play in. It was just so nice to see that despite their lack of funding and resources, they really made an effort to  make a home for these cats, and one of my overriding happy thoughts of my time in Bali is sitting in the healthy room with the dozens of cats all playing in both the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Gap year volunteering in Bali with BAWA

How you can help!

If you are in the area, I urge you to pop in and visit, even if you cannot spare the time to volunteer it is just to drop a few locally bought supplies off or spend some time giving the cats and kittens a bit of good old fashioned TLC, it is all welcome. There are so many ways you can help BAWA if you happen to be heading to Bali, or even if you are not you can still help.

If you are in Bali you can always volunteer your time. If you are a vet or a vet nurse, or work with animals in another capacity your skills and time is much in demand and would be infinitely appreciated, but even if you are not the puppies and kittens at the clinic always appreciate a little taking care of!

Animals always appreciate a hug!

The day to day care of the animals, including bathing, walking, feeding, playing and the odd cuddle or three is always needed. There are always too many animals, not enough people. So if you think you can help in any way then please do so. The only requirement is that you have been fully vaccinated against rabies and that you can give a minimum of two weeks and not visit any other animal shelter to try and minimise the spread of disease.

The dogs and cats are also in constant need of food, blankets, toys, collars and a whole host of other essential supplies, and BAWA have a wish list of items that they need the most at any given time on their website. If you can bring any supplies with you from home or buy them in Bali, then you can drop them off at BAWA headquarters or at the clinic itself in Ubud.

Alternatively you could always simply fundraise or donate directly through their website.

Whatever you decide to do, if you are an animal lover you have to show your support to these wonderful, kind hearted people and help these animals who deserve just a little bit of care and attention. The staff and volunteers at BAWA are doing a fantastic job taking care of the dogs and cats (and occasionally snakes and monkeys too) of Bali, and are performing an essential public health service.  So if you are in Bali and you can spare the time, please help. If you can’t then consider helping in other ways because they truly are doing a wonderful job, but they can’t do it without help.

What did you think of this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

BAWA logo

Related Articldes

A Day With BAWA’s street feeding team in Bali.

How To Volunteer With Wildlife On Your Gap Year.

Why All Travellers To Bali Should Get The Rabies Vaccine.

Wildlife Tourism On Your Gap Year, The RIGHT Way.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Volunteering
24 comments on “Spotlight On BAWA, Volunteering In Bali.
  1. Wow what an amazing place, and a great blog! The world needs more places like this and the more people who help the better!

  2. gratis says:

    Hi you have a nice website! This post is really inspirational, thanks!

  3. Mitzi says:

    Hi Michael, thank you.What a beautiful article. I have just returned from Ubud and people told me before I travelled there, as I am a constant dog patter, that I should not to pat any of the street dogs so I got my fix at the BAWA shop. Mind you “Monkey” the beautiful pup, was so content in her clean warm bed with her belly full of her rice breakfast that she never even raised her head. We travel through this beautiful country and the least we can do is give back just that little bit of support, so as you have, I urge people to visit BAWA website and whilst you are in Bali their shop and take a look at how you can help. There is so much we can do and so much that is needed.

  4. Mel says:

    Hey, Well done and well written 🙂 ! Spread the word about BAWA yes. Greetings from switzerland – Mel , another BAWA supporter

  5. Daniel says:

    This excellent website certainly has all the info I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask. I’ll certainly look up BAWA when I am in Ubud.

  6. alicesgapyearadventures says:

    Thank you so much for writing this, it has given me a lot of inspiration! I would love to do some volunteering when I go backpacking!

  7. Gio says:

    Hi Michael, this is inspirational. Thanks for sharing!

    Regards from Indonesia 🙂

  8. ahubbard10 says:

    Alright, you’ve sold me. I’m seriously going to look into this while I’m there. There’s a Bali Reptile Rescue that I’ve already planned on volunteering at because I’m weird and am fascinated with snakes. Apparently, I’m going to be doing a whole lot of animal loving in Bali 😀

  9. tiwi says:

    How to involve as volunteer? But i have free time only on saturday and monday

  10. Micha says:

    This sounds like an absolutely amazing organisation doing great work! I’d love to support them if I’m ever over that way again.

  11. Alisa says:

    What an amazing bunch of people! I’ll definitely stop by when I’m in Bali.

  12. Cynthia says:

    Do you know if I can mail in some items on their wish-list?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a published author, qualified nurse and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent 15 years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

Get notified about all the latest travel tips, advice and inspiration as well as amazing competitions and exclusive discounts! Don't worry we will never send you spam or unwanted mail.

Join 18,234 other followers

Global Spirit Partnership Badge
Copyright notice.

© Bemused Backpacker and the gecko logo is owned and copyrighted by Michael Huxley 2020. Unless stated, all blog and website content is owned and copyrighted by Michael Huxley 2020.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Michael Huxley is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael Huxley and Bemused Backpacker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Detector

%d bloggers like this: