Once upon a time…… Dreams can come true!

A serendipitous run-in between a school careers counsellor and Marg Barry, founder of Bali Children Foundation, was the beginning of an invaluable journey for our intern Maria Callista. Maria joined us in July of this year after her careers counsellor and Marg met at a function in Bali. After attending an interview and hearing Maria’s story, very quickly Marg realised it wasn’t the first time they’d met, having known Maria when she was a young girl!

Maria had just been awarded a Wheelton Philanthropy Scholarship to study a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne and was looking for something to fill her time until commencing tertiary studies in February 2020. Little did she expect that working with Bali Children Foundation would lead to her discovering herself and her past.

Maria attended an International school on scholarship since she was a 4-year-old orphan, and has always spoken English. Grateful for the opportunities she had been given growing up, Maria always felt a bit different. Feeling in limbo between the Indonesian and Expat world contributed to some unsettling feelings regarding her identity and where she had come from.

Since July, Maria has been on over 20 field trips around Bali and Lombok, talking at schools and hearing from students about their work, but also connecting with her cultural identity, something she had longed for. ‘Now, I consider myself a lot closer to my heritage. Bali Children Foundation helped facilitate the development of my compassion and kindness.’.

It was the kids who ‘made’ the trips so heart warming and eye-opening, ‘I was always so grateful when they would remember me.’ Maria hopes that her experiences as an Indonesian student will give BCF students more reason to continue their education, ‘just to be able to use my story is such a rewarding experience.’

We look forward to watching Maria’s journey which is still unfolding. We wish her every success in her studies at the University of Melbourne and look forward to seeing her in the semester break.

Wheelton Philanthropy scholarships are granted by Paul Wheelton AM KSJ, who is chairman of Bali Children Foundation. Besides the Australian scholarship, Paul and Angela Wheelton provide Wheelton Scholarships for 10 disadvantaged girls to attend University in Bali.