The Bebali Foundation (www.bebali.org) works towards sustainable livelihoods for indigenous people across Indonesia, and does so through the textile and natural dye arts. It works closely with Threads of Life to help rural communities take advantage of the market access we offer, and its programs help our partner communities develop their independent businesses for growth, environmental sustainability, and cultural integrity.
The Bebali Foundation is an Indonesian non-profit organization that helps hundreds of weavers who live in remote, under-developed villages turn textiles, crafts, and other expressions of their local cultures into badly needed income in a way that is environmentally sustainable, promotes cultural integrity, and empowers women. The weaving communities we work with have provided the foundation with a “mandate” of issues that they want addressed, in three general areas: incubating community businesses, managing forests and natural resources, and nurturing traditional culture.
Incubating Community Businesses for the Rural Poor
Promoting investment, innovation, and entrepreneurship in a real market environment can empower women, get and keep children in school, and improve health by raising incomes and creating skilled jobs. Because these jobs often depend on aspects of culture that are unique and inseparable from their rural location, much of this growth stays in small villages. And because these businesses serve real markets, they sustain themselves without further aid or patronage.
Initiating Community Forest Stewardship and Forest Product Management
Sustainable businesses require sustainable resources. With botanical research and field workshops, the Bebali Foundation helps communities fully understand the resources they use and develop management plans that preserve their forests and raise their incomes. The growing Bebali Foundation herbarium collection forms a buffer against the loss of botanical knowledge in our partner communities. The foundation also facilitates dialogue with local governments in order to formalize community use of non-timber forest products.
Nurturing Aspects of Traditional Culture that Strengthen Contemporary Society
Communities fail to develop economically when their self-worth is undermined. Nobody becomes self-starting and empowered when being told by media, government and the outside world that their heritage and identity are backward and primitive. The Bebali Foundation aims to understand, engage with and support the aspects of a community’s culture and traditions that empower people, and work through traditional social institutions to help people take charge of their own destinies.