Giving back to those in need

  • Support team: senior therapist Ni Wayan Sunantri, back row, second left, and her colleagues at Spa Oasis donated $1,750 each to Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and Family Centre. The funds were matched by Spa Oasis owner Juan Smith, back row (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Support team: senior therapist Ni Wayan Sunantri, back row, second left, and her colleagues at Spa Oasis donated $1,750 each to Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and Family Centre. The funds were matched by Spa Oasis owner Juan Smith, back row (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ni Wayan Sunantri began planning for Christmas in January. Friends and family were not on her mind. The senior therapist at Spa Oasis had set a lofty goal of making a sizeable contribution to help Bermuda’s needy. It meant she had to start saving early.

With help from her fellow therapists at the Laffan Street spa, she split $3,500 between Family Centre and Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre last week.

Ms Sunantri suggested the idea last year as a way for the therapists — who hail from Indonesia and Bhutan — could give back to their adopted home. Their boss, Juan Smith, agreed to match whatever they raised.

The eight colleagues willingly put aside a portion of their earnings each month, handing $1,800 to the Salvation Army in 2018.

“We do this to give thanks to Bermuda for making our lives easier,” said Ms Sunantri, who is originally from Bali. “My experience is Bermuda is the best place.

“I said to the girls, to Mr Smith, ‘Let’s do something.’ I thought for us, we’re very appreciative because our life here is better than in our country.

“We can show our thanks if we help feed families here, not just take the money and send it home. There are people here who need help. There are people with no homes; children who need help.”

Ms Sunantri moved to the island to work at Spa Oasis when it opened seven years ago.

“I didn’t know anything about Bermuda then,” she said. “Seven years ago, I was in Jordan at a hotel that was new and had very few customers. I was crying all the time. I had no clients. One day I saw an ad on Facebook — Mr Smith was looking for therapists in Bermuda.”

She sent in her résumé and “then started wondering” where Bermuda was.

“I contacted all my friends. Some said it was in New York, some said in England. I was really confused.”

Having already worked in Germany, China, Turkey, Palau and Jordan, she decided to view it as “another adventure”.

“I finally decided just go and if something happens you can just leave.”

She arrived expecting a “nice, big city” and was surprised to find the island “looked more like a jungle”.

“But it’s a nice place,” she said. “I’ve met so many people. Last year, I decided I wanted to help out the Salvation Army because I saw so many people standing in line waiting for food.

“We’re trying to target causes. We’re not just giving toys, [we want to get to the heart of the problem]. We want to give where people really need help.

“With Bermuda Cancer and Health, the money will go specifically to people who are underinsured or not insured. We chose Family Centre because we found out most of the money goes directly to helping the children — I think it’s 85 per cent. With some charities it’s the reverse because there are a lot of admin costs.”

Ms Sunantri, who regularly sends gifts she buys at thrift stores here to people in her village, says she hopes to continue the tradition as long as she can.

“Mr Smith said [to speak with The Royal Gazette] to let our guests, our clients know they are helping contribute to a cause that will eventually help Bermudians,” she said.

“We wanted them to know that a portion of what they pay to the spa comes back and helps [the island].”

Having discussed the scheme for some time with Ms Sunantri before it started, Mr Smith said he was proud to see what his staff had accomplished.

“I often hear that [expatriate workers] just come here to take as much as they can, but these guys, no one’s forcing them to contribute. They’re giving from their hearts. They recognise that they are not from here and there are some people who may just come to take, but they want to give back.

“[Ni Wayan] and I had been talking about giving back for the past couple years. It started last year when we gave the Salvation Army a monetary gift of $1,800.

“This year, we wanted to put something in the paper to thank our clients for supporting us and for helping us to support Bermuda.”

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Published Dec 23, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 23, 2019 at 7:21 am)

Giving back to those in need

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