It’s almost the end of 2020, a year unlike any other. Begawan Foundation has kept its Breeding and Release centre open throughout the year, and conducted At-home schooling for the Eco-Warriors who have been unable to join classes at our Learning Centre. In this newsletter we take a look back at 2020, and our hopes for 2021.

In early 2020, everyone was surprised by the spread of the corona virus. Something that was unexpected brought significant changes to all aspects of life. Since then, many people have lost their jobs, are working from home and schools have closed. Significant adjustments then occurred everywhere. It is time to reflect, and look at how Begawan Foundation has adapted and continued its activities.

In a few weeks, we will start the year 2021. At the end of 2020, Begawan Foundation wants to share the achievements and progress we have made for the conservation of the Bali Starlings in Melinggih Kelod Village, Payangan, Bali.

Our Breeding and Release Center has still operated as usual throughout the year, although as the Corona cases began to rise in Bali, we closed our Center to guests. We have still received visits for educational and research purposes, but in very limited numbers.

With fine tuning of staff tasks, all take responsibility to handle each and every aspect of the Breeding Centre and the community involvement, focussing on team cooperation and multitasking awareness.

The Madhusuara (Sanskrit: beautiful melodies) Breeders Association is composed of a number of community breeders chosen for their interest in breeding birds, with the aim to release F2 offspring in the village itself. These local bird lovers must be prepared to be part of the program long-term. Holding a pair of Bali Starlings is not enough, breeding for release is of prime importance.

The Bali Starlings that were born from the first generation of the Foster Parent Program have reached the age of breeding and are in the process of being paired. We have DNA sexed all the young birds, to facilitate the process of pairing birds. It has been interesting to note that the majority of birds bred by the breeders are female, which those belonging to Begawan Foundation are males.

The collaboration between Begawan Foundation and the Melinggih Kelod village has also continued this year, with the village providing bird food assistance to our foster parents. We hope that this collaboration will continue into 2021, and we are also looking forward to working even more closely with the foster parents.

The released Bali Starlings have successfully bred in 2020. This is something they obviously enjoy, hatching a total of 10 chicks. Although there have been several incidents of snakes entering the nest box and eating the chicks, we continue to make every effort we can to protect them. We started by installing metal barriers on the tree both above and below the nest box, and cut branches that allowed access. Now we have moved the nest box onto a single pole away from nearby trees. Despite the losses, this does not dampen our intention to continue expecting further chicks from this pair. As of mid-December, there are eggs in the nest box.

In addition to observing via CCTV cameras, we have also conducted direct observation around our center, not only by conservation staff, but also with the local community. We have received photos of Bali Starlings from local residents who have helped us capture the moments when Bali Starlings visited their house compounds.

We have a dream to make Melinggih Kelod a tourist village, with Bali Starlings as one of its attractions. We dream that we can see Bali Starlings visiting the houses of local residents and being able to live side by side with the people in Melinggih Kelod. We believe that the conservation of the Bali Starling will not only benefit nature, but also humans.

Our Education program has also continued throughout the year. At a time when parents have been worrying about the lack of school education children might be experiencing after nine months of disrupted education, it is a great time to think about all the things children have learned this year.

Let’s look at the less measurable results – resilience, being able to cope with what life has thrown them;  kindness, helping family in the compound by working alongside grandma, looking after a baby sibling, cooking with mum; mental strength, still experiencing the world around them even if they could not see it for themselves; gratitude, sharing with our staff all the good things that they still see in life; creativity in all its forms.

Many students participated in At-home lessons – numeracy, literacy, video production, poem and story writing, puzzles, gardening, diary keeping, art – just to name a few. We congratulate the students for diligently picking up lessons, and returning them completed a week later, the parents who have assisted their children in many of the set exercises, and our staff who designed lessons every week since the closure of schools and our Learning Centre in March. We did not expect that this necessity to create interesting activities would go on for so long.

Eco-warriors took lessons each week from the Begawan office and returned the papers to us the following week. In the lessons, children are given various activities which include experimentation, observation, creative writing, counting and painting. These activities accommodate mathematics, English, science, arts and Indonesian lessons.

Along with the absence of face-to-face learning, our education team has also had time to review its activities. Together with Zaprendo, a school advisory company based in New Zealand and the UK, we are writing a new curriculum for the Learning Center. We have also gradually introduced the activities contained in the curriculum into At-home lessons.

Activities which include introspective, active, emotional and cognitive aspects get a good response from the children. The introspective aspect has given them time to reflect and we have been grateful for the insights into their thoughts that have been offered to us.

They are also able to take real actions through active activities.Through tree planting activities, Eco-Warriors have prepared future home and food sources for the Bali Starlings and themselves. One of their other creative works is the DIY hand washing place constructed from used goods.

Items such as poetry, songs, stories, caricatures, educational posters and educational videos have shown their ability to be really creative.

Looking at our programs from the perspective of other people, especially program recipients, is an important activity in a program development process. Listening to the opinions, comments and suggestions of program recipients directly provides new insights into measuring the success of an activity. That way, the program can be further developed. This is part of the year-end reflection of Begawan Foundation’s Education Program.

This reflection was carried out by the Begawan Foundation staff, who also listened to the opinions of program recipients – the children and parents.

Children who come to our Learning Center always say that they are happy to take part in Begawan Foundation’s Education Program. We also received appreciation from the parents.

“While studying at Begawan I saw so much progress and development in my children and their self-confidence was much better,” said Mrs. Murniasih, a parent of two students who have been taking lessons since the Begawan Foundation Learning Center was established in November 2018.

The parents of Kintan and Welian also felt the same. According to them, their two children are always excited to go to the Begawan Foundation Learning Center. They were also happy to join the field trip program organized by the foundation.

The cooking lessons gave the students the opportunity to prepare their own food, and they saw their children become more confident in public by participating in drama performances. “The video competition made my child learn video editing, shooting and using digital tools directly. The environmental program adds to their understanding of the importance of nature preservation,” was another comment.

The same thing was also expressed by parents of students who have just joined the lessons. We are grateful for all these words of appreciation and hope that the program continues to develop the abilities and talents of all the students.

The results of reflection with students and their parents about the learning process inspired us to reopen the Learning Center at the end of November 2020 with permission from the Department of Education in Gianyar. Very strict rules and health protocols are applied in the classroom with only 6-8 people in the open space classroom, masks worn at all times, hand-washing before entering the area. This reopening has received positive support from both parents and the students.

Besides re-commencing sessions for Eco-Warriors who are still in elementary school, the Learning Center will also start classes for 5 Eco-Warriors from the Junior High School (SMP) in mid-December 2020.

The Education Team and local youth around Payangan have also initiated the nutrition education project for local communities. The youth who join as volunteers in the development of this project will conduct research to make mushroom baglog from used coffee grounds and mushroom spores. This mushroom media will be cared for by all students at their homes and at the Learning Center. The resulting mushrooms can be a nutritious food source for people, especially children. Mushrooms contain less fiber and more than a dozen minerals and vitamins. The volunteers will receive training to manage mushroom production so that they also can get benefit from this program.

And so to 2021, just a few weeks away. We will close 2020 and start a new story in 2021. With great enthusiasm, we are ready to start 2021 with innovative projects, and interesting and useful learning activities.

Begawan Foundation staff members have prepared several plans for new educational projects and activities fitting in with the previous education program. Activities included in previous education programs such as school presentations, banjar presentations, the 4 week “Learning by Doing” program for kindergartens, the 10 week ‘Learning by Doing’ program for SD, SMP, SMA / SMK and “Learning by Doing” lesson at the Begawan Foundation Learning Center will continue to be carried out according to the new normal conditions. In addition, collaboration with more organizations in the form of seminars/workshops which are still related to the pedagogy and educational goals of the Begawan Foundation are expected to begin.

To continue running our programs, we need support from various parties. This year, we received grants from several conservation organizations.

We also partnered with a local Balinese artist to create Bali Starling wood statues. By giving a donation of IDR 525,000 (not including shipping fee), you will receive a pair of Bali Starling wood statues (male and female) with a height of about 25 cm. This donation will support our conservation program and also the local Balinese artist. This may be not only a gift for others, you can also gift it to yourself.

Begawan Foundation has a Bali Starling adoption program, where adopters can donate funds to provide food for the birds they adopt. There are two choices – your donation of IDR 2,000,000 ($150) will provide the funds for fruit, vegetables, mealworms and crickets for the bird you adopt for a year. Your donation of IDR 5,000,000 ($350) will provide the funds for the daily meals, medicines, and vitamins for the birds you adopt, the veterinarian fee and partial cost of caretaker staff for a year.

You can donate through http://bit.ly/begawandonation or contact us on our social media, or directly email to admin@begawanfoundation.org. The foundation will provide the adopter with a certificate of adoption  with the identity of the bird that has been adopted.

To support the sustainability of the nutritional education project, we are conducting fundraising through https://KitaBisa.com/campaign/pendidikannutrisi. We hope that the funding needs for this project can be met by 2021.

In addition, we hope that in 2021 Begawan Foundation can start providing educational assistance for village children, especially our Eco-Warriors whose families are struggling to provide education for their children. This will be realized in the Foster Student Program, which we are developing for 2021. More information on this soon!

To realize all these aspirations, support from various parties is needed. Thank you to all those who have supported us to run educational programs for children around Payangan. Hopefully, in 2021 we have more support to help us realize our programs and educational activities for children in villages especially around Payangan.

Thank you to all who have continued to support us financially throughout 2020 – especially Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Ocean Park Conservation Fund in Hong Kong, RARES in Australia and our founders, Bradley and Debora Gardner.

This video, taken back in April, shows two wild Bali Starling chicks that are about to fledge from the nestbox, peering from the entrance, with the parents outside on guard. One chick had already fledged by then we see it flying around the box. A great image!

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