Working on paradise island under COVID-19 lockdown: Gaya Dewata speak out

By April 9, 2020 Learning, Newsroom, Regional, Showcase

The Gaya Dewata Foundation (YGD) based in Bali, Indonesia is a non-profit organisation concerned with sexual health, HIV-AIDS and sexuality issues among vulnerable and underserved men who have sex with men (MSM), gay and transgender communities in Bali. YGD Bali is a community-based organization working in the field of health. Specifically focusing on risk reduction programs concerning sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV for gay men, transgender women (waria) and MSM. YGD plays an active role in disseminating information about STIs and HIV and AIDS prevention through:

  • 1) One-on-one and group information sessions for MSM, gay and transgender communities,
  • 2) Routine outreach activities,
  • 3) STI and HIV counselling,
  • 4) Referral assistance for STI screening and HIV testing,
  • 5) Providing support for persons living with or affected by HIV,
  • 6) The facilitation of close working relationships with both government and non-government bodies, organisations and individuals in the furthering of ideas and the achievement of the goals of YGD.

APCOM is currently in the process of reaching out to better understand how community based organisations are dealing with the ongoing developments and day to day running of their organisations during this unsettling period in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indonesia current statistics as of April 9, 2020

COVID-19 cases: 3,293 (reported)

Loss of life: 280

Recovered: 252

1. What is the current COVID-19 situation in your country and what measures if any are you/your organisation is doing around preventing COVID-19 infection not only for your staff but also partners?

Indonesia is facing a difficult situation, with one of the highest death rates in the world, and the one of the highest total number of fatalities in the region. Bali has been especially sensitive to the effects of the response to COVID-19 due to the economic reliance on tourism throughout the island. The Bali government has issued an emergency proclamation in force until t April 21, 2020 that limits access to all services including office businesses and regular health service. Therefore, our management are limiting their office based time to just twice a week. Most of outreach staff are working through virtual outreach method.

Large numbers of our clients are under extreme economic distress, and there has been limited support put in place by either the local or national governments to help those who are facing financial difficulties.

YGD have given our team the full option to work from home, if it is possible within their job duties. If not we have been providing ongoing support to ensure staff are frequently washing hands, and know how to minimise risk of transmission and following social distancing guidelines.

We have been working with other partners to create community support for our communities that are most negatively affected by the ongoing impact that the pandemic is causing.

2. What has been the immediate impact of COVID-19 in your organisation and in your community? 

A large number of our program activities have either had to be postponed or continue in a limited (digital) capacity.

One of our staff members has had to return to Australia, as the Australia Volunteer Program he was working with us through has closed due to COVID-19. This has limited our capacity.

As we are still unsure as to the length and severity of the measures the Balinese Government might undertake in response to COVID-19. We are still reviewing the effects and impact this may have for our programs in the long term. Though its early days yet with so many variables and competing priorities.

3. What are the main worries in your organisation on the impact of COVID-19 – in the short term and long term? 

Our main worries for our organisation, both short and long term, are for the economic livelihoods of our clients and our wider communities. Bali is extremely vulnerable to economic downturn, and our client communities are some of the most vulnerable within Balinese society. Their ability to feed, maintain their accommodation and pay for basic essentials like water and electricity are increasing concerns for us.

 4. If you were having a meeting with donors and supporters what would you like to say to them?

We would request for donors and supporters to take a flexible view of what programs might be essential for our communities at risk during this current crisis. We cannot ensure someone’s sexual health needs are being met if they are in extreme economic distress. And we can assume that with lack of access to services and health care this risk is further amplified. LGBTQ communities are especially vulnerable in Asia as governments may choose to provide financial assistance and support to communities through the framework of traditional family units, further alienating many of our clients. Thereby missing out on possible financial support.


For more information on Gaya Dewata Foundation.