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Million Meals March helps raise over USD $70,000 in support of vulnerable communities in Bali

Written by Emily Fang Published on 

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The walk for a cause focuses on mass producing and distributing nutritious meals for the most vulnerable in Bali.

We hear from Damian Hoo, an Australian Video Creator who has lived in Singapore for the past 5 years. Having recently moved to Bali this year, he joined forces with the Nas Academy and the GrabforGood program. As a recent Grab4Good representative at the march, he shares how Million Meals March is giving back to the community. Damian also creates commercially and has aligned himself to create videos for brands in Singapore and Indonesia. He can be reached via his Instagram.

On March 27th, 65 international hikers started their grueling 30 KM journey in the sweltering Balinese heat, starting at Puri Anyar (The Royal Palace) of Kerambitan, to support a fundraising effort.

Organised by the Scholars of Sustenance (SOS), the walk for a cause was to raise food charity efforts in Indonesia. The organisation specialises in providing unused food from hotels or restaurants to those who need sustenance. Because of COVID-19, they now focus on mass producing and distributing nutritious meals for the most vulnerable on the island. They are able to serve 3,500 meals a day on average with some days over 12,000.

Recipients of the program receive nutritious meals, many that live in orphanages and vulnerable communities. Courtesy of SOS.

Damian Hoo, an Australian video creator who recently landed in Bali, partnered with the fundraising initiative. He had been part of the recently graduated Nas Academy and Grab4Good cohort, where Grab had sponsored 100 content creators in SE Asia for enrollment. If you scroll through Damian’s social feeds, he has been a vocal, consistent advocate of the march, drawing attention from his communities back in Singapore and Australia to help contribute.

Damian Hoo co hosted the dinner celebration for the Million Meals March. Courtesy of Richo Darma.

Using his own platform as a content creator, he decided to spend his days in Bali creating videos surrounding the livelihoods and beautiful culture of the Balinese.

He explains why he personally became invested in this initiative, “Vulnerable communities in South East Asia are often neglected due to a lack of welfare and provisions that don’t seem to steep down from governments which can be from a lack of funding, programming, or corruption. With a lopsided socio-economic set up in many countries here, the lesser privileged have to fight hard to get basic needs. The march is not a result of COVID-19. But because of the impact it has had on the Balinese economy, it is more important than ever before to support these communities.”

Marchers hike their way through the 30 KM journey for Million Meals March. Courtesy of Richo Darma.

Before the hike began, all participants had the opportunity to dine with the King and Royal family of Kerambitan in a traditional dinner with live music.

The 65 marchers, many who have lived in Bali for years, participated in this cause by firstly raising awareness and finding donors to help contribute or spread the word. The hike itself sprawled through the villages of Kerambitan, down to the dense jungles of Tabanan, through the Yeh Ho river, across the cascading rice fields and finally to Kelating Beach.

A Mangku blesses the hikers as they go forth on their pilgrimage. Courtesy of Richo Darma.

Damian adds, “The Royal Palace of Kerambitan really helped sponsor the movement. They provided the tracking routes for the hike, the food at dinner, and the pre hike show. They just helped organise the whole event incredibly well.”

When asked how much was raised from this cause, Damian grins, “$70,000 USD was raised in total. The money will go to food rescue and food preparation for an ever increasing amount of vulnerable people on the island. The money will also go to developing permaculture farms and farm education, so that people can learn and grow their own food in a sustainable way. ”

Marchers successfully cross the finish line. Courtesy of Richo Darma.

In addition, “for every 1 USD donated, that is 6 meals into the hands and mouths of those going hungry. We just just raised $70,000 so this is going to make a huge impact for this community,” says DJ Denton, Project Manager from Scholars of Sustenance.

Damian also highlights a few thoughts while living in Bali during the COVID-19 epidemic.

He thoughtfully says, “I hope that Bali can learn from this period of respite in tourism numbers to reacquire and realign with its farming roots. As tourism has been only a massive force here for 30 years, Bali needs to future proof itself. Education, self-sustainability, and furthering other industrial developments are required. But of course, coexisting is also necessary with the return of the tourism sector to the island to bolster peoples opportunities.”

WRITTEN BY

Emily Fang

Emily is a Community Lead based in Singapore, connecting SE Asia's tech scene to the rest of the world. Originally from Silicon Valley, she's worked in community building, event marketing, and developer relations for MNCs and startups. Most recently, she made the move to Asia to do her own self-guided global MBA.

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