The local dive community are one big family here in Amed, in East Bali.
Amed is a jewel that some new divers or people wanting to learn to dive might not know about. The pandemic has hit Bali hard, with tourism being the major source of income for the island (60% comes from Australia).
When the tourists left, the money dried up very quickly. Balinese culture is steeped in tradition, caring for your fellow villagers and extended family members is instinctive. In the midst of the pandemic it was evident that the Balinese spirit would not be dampened .
While I supported some friends on the island and will continue to do so until tourism is back to a level where people can catch a breath, certain government initiatives started to surface (pardon the pun). One of the initiatives was to support the local dive professionals in rebuilding local reefs around the island.
The project I became involved with was the Amed chapter of Perkumpulan Pemandu Penyelam (P3A for short). The team set about manufacturing concrete structures that could be used to encourage coral growth, made manually with a wooden support structure and local concrete (made with volcanic sand).
The success of these simplistic structures can be seen at The Pyramids Dive Site in Amed, a wonderful dive site with everything from Gorgonian fans to macro heaven and a cracking night dive.
Using the power of Facebook I raised £250 over my birthday which I topped up to £300 equivalent of 6m Indonesian Rupiah, which I handed over on 15th March. This will help fund the project and support the local diver community in a small way.
Their work hasn’t stopped at the reef restoration though. They do regular underwater cleanups, removing a lot of ghost net and also supporting their families as and when required. I cannot overstate the work they are doing as a dive community above and below the surface.
As this will be my home in the not too distant future I have spent a lot of time with this group of extraordinary people. I have never been made to feel more welcome or indeed at home. Whether its advice and guidance pre or post dive or just kicking back with some morning coffee or Arak of an evening or learning more about Balinese culture I learnt more in 3 weeks than I could ever have hoped for.
This is one of the projects I will continue to support along with an awesome Thresher Shark Project in Alor run by a team of local young adults to encourage the protection of the Thresher Shark from fishing. I hope to visit this project in September /October of this year on my next trip.