“Keeping the children busy all day was an urgent problem”: how a Russian woman opened a kindergarten in Bali

«Занять детей на весь день было насущной проблемой»: как россиянка открыла детский сад на Бали

The unusual story of moving to Indonesia portal Vokrugsveta.ru Olga Baluta, business coach, creator of the BALU KIDS kindergarten in Bali, told us. Then the text is in the first person.

Children have nowhere to go

If you know what November is like in Moscow, then it makes no sense to explain how much it pulls in warmth and sun from there. November became the starting point for our family: unexpectedly for us, the landlord of the apartment informed us that he was returning to the apartment, which means that we would have to move. The last thing I wanted was to move through the pre—winter slush, settle in and adapt to a new apartment. At that time we had two children, two dogs, as well as my third pregnancy, and I offered to fly to Bali for the winter, my husband agreed. The return tickets were taken for April.

The time of our flight was in quarantine. So… Jakarta. Hotel. Ten days all together in the room. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it possible to survive? Yes, as practice has shown.

Olga Baluta

After arriving in Bali, we settled in Seminyak, then moved to Changa. There were few tourists, the roads were clear, there was no traffic. I know it sounds like a tall tale, but it’s true.

We found a babysitter for the children in advance through an agency: we watched her video greeting, called her — we really liked her. The nanny was with us for nine months, the children loved her very much, they still remember her with warmth. We had to move to another area — it’s an hour away, so it became more difficult for the nanny with logistics. The question arose of finding a kindergarten.

We found an Australian garden, but his schedule was inconvenient: at 13:30 the senior’s group ended, at 12:30 the younger one. The kids fell asleep right on the bike on the way home. The cost was also not encouraging. And even if it was possible to spend time with children after kindergarten, there was nowhere to spend it: there are no parks, alleys, courtyards, playgrounds. You can only stay in the villa. Keeping the children busy all day was an urgent problem. Then I started thinking about my own kindergarten.

While living in areas near the ocean, I felt unwell: my pregnancy was growing, I was getting very hot, I sat under the air conditioner for days, sometimes I asked my husband to ride me on a bike to get some air. I started to feel drawn to the jungle, because it’s cooler there — a few degrees less. We started looking for a villa in Ubud.

Ubud is a spiritual area. People from all over the world come here for enlightenment, various practices, meditations, and so on. In Ubud, I felt calm, it felt so good in my soul, there was a feeling that we were where we needed to be.

“Employees can leave suddenly”

One day, when we were driving through a jungle of vines and trees, which, you know, surround the road with a canopy tunnel, the word “Baloo” came to my mind, I was sitting behind my husband and said that this would be the name of our kindergarten. He replied, “What? What kind of kindergarten?” This thought did not cheer him up as much as it did me. But I felt that the decision was right, that there was a future behind it. I began to delve into the process: I found a place, ordered furniture, and started organizing.

At first, the kindergarten was located on 25 m2. It was a room in the teacher’s house, next to our villa. Very quickly, according to recommendations, by word of mouth, we recruited ten children into the kindergarten.

My husband was inspired by the response we received from our kindergarten parents. He proposed to expand the space and found a plot of 1000 m2.

We started building a kindergarten and in two months we built it. My husband, by the way, became so interested in construction that six months after the opening of the kindergarten he created a villa renovation company. And now he has already built 13 villas in Bali.

When I decided to find a manager, a teacher from Moscow wrote to me on the same day that he wanted to fly to Bali and was looking for a job. Now he works with us, he has already trained a team of teachers to work with Montessori materials. And I got out of the operating system eight months after the start of building the system.

We have children under the age of six. Recently, the students staged a play “Teremok” in Russian. And the older group is learning to read and write in English. I really like that in the symbiosis of cultures and languages, children become multifaceted: sons, due to their age, speak Russian, English, and Indonesian at different levels.

By the way, children walk barefoot on different surfaces all the time — on dirt, on rocks, on grass, on asphalt — and I think this is very good for their health, for hardening.

Indonesians are very nice people. We employ Balinese people who have adapted to our conditions. But in general, it is difficult to find decent local candidates here: many do not come to interviews or leave without explanation. I’ve heard that employees can leave suddenly, but I didn’t have that.

Do you remember when I told you about the empty roads at the very beginning of our stay? Forget it. I learned to drive a bike in the seventh month of pregnancy — getting a local license is a mandatory procedure. Traffic in Bali is on the left, now it is also dense.

A lot of people don’t know how to drive: children just take a motorcycle from their parents and drive around the village. Then, apparently, they grow up and drive on the roads in the same way.

At the same time, despite the terrible traffic, traffic jams, accidents due to inability to drive (that’s what tourists say), I see a lot of mutual respect on the road – with rare exceptions, someone is stupefied honking or swearing. Balinese people are generally calm people.

Day of Silence

In Indonesia, there is a Nyepi holiday in March, which is considered the Indonesian New Year. Many ceremonies are held at this time, and the main event is the burning of huge figures called Ogo—Ogo.

The third day of the holiday is a day of silence, when no one leaves the house, uses electricity and does not talk. On this day, even planes don’t fly, shops don’t work — everyone stays at home, and so do we. True, we cook, use the Internet, play with children at home, but we honor traditions to the best of our abilities, that is, we do not arrange any loud gatherings, parties, or walk down the street.

In general, Balinese are a kind, peaceful people. But they do not accept disrespect for their traditions, ridicule of their nation or customs. This is something that can be deported for. For example, if there are posts, stories from bloggers who don’t like something about the country, its religions, traditions. It’s being tracked.

We like this culture — it does not bring discomfort, you feel inside it, on the contrary, in a “safe aura”. Bali is a very salutary place, it is filled with respect.

Olga Baluta

For children and adults who are tired of spinning in the hustle and bustle of life, Bali is a wonderful place. Here you can slow down, fill up, hear yourself, hear others. We continue to live here, develop, develop this place, invest in it. We feel how Bali responds to us with gratitude and energy exchange.

When coming to live in another country, you need to understand that the country will not adapt to you, but you have to adapt to it, then it will be easier to accept the situation, it will be easier to find contact. If you are kind and generous, do not try to change everything around you, but try to do something for yourself, to the best of your abilities and for the benefit of others, then you will always get a return.

Read the real stories of people who moved from Russia to other countries in the section “Emigration” on Vokrugsveta.ru .


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