Philanthropists, entrepreneurs and founders of Feed Bali
The impact we feel is seeing the relieved faces of thousands of Balinese mums, dads, and grandparents when they see the size of their two-week food package.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
Originally from Canada, I (Frances Tse Ardika) met my future husband, I Made Adi Ardika, in 2000, and in the years that follow, I’d be the first foreigner to become a Balinese Pemangku (Temple Priestess). Because so many have asked about our story over the last two decades, I finally published my first memoir, TRESNA, Gate of Love in 2021, of which 10% goes to Feed Bali.
TRESNA, Gate of Love is a vivid, inside account of the unexplored beauty, culture, and food of the “real” Bali in the early 2000s, before the age of digital nomads and Instagram influencers. But more than anything, it is a love story. Long before my incarnation, I was a Canadian internet start-up founder fighting burnout in both my love life and career. Escaping for a week to Bali on my way to attend my umpteenth wedding as a “single,” I was looking forward to a vacation, not a vocation. But then I met Adi, an unassuming young Balinese man who showed me a side of Bali most tourists never get to experience. Here began my life-changing journey of transformation, rebirth – and love – that would one day bring me through the temple gates.
Today, we own Taksu Bali Travel & Weddings, Tresna Bali Cooking School, and two lovely Little Wooden Cottages in Ubud, Bali. When Covid-19 hit, we pivoted our businesses to create Feed Bali, a charity that provides two weeks of nutritious food for Balinese families. Since March 2020, Feed Bali has given over half a million meals to feed over 5,000 families devastated by the pandemic.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Our 15 year-old daughter. She’s not our accomplishment, but she is our pride.
When the first Covid death hit Bali, we closed all our businesses, sent our team home with pay, and got everyone to isolate for the next two weeks. I fell into a deep depression, but our 13 year-old at the time reminded me that we had a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, and savings to wait it out. But our neighbours and the majority of Balinese lived day-to-day with little savings. So on her 14th birthday on March 23, 2020, we came up with the idea of feeding 20 families around our cooking school. We asked family and friends to donate USD 23 to feed a family of four for two weeks, dug up our garden, and started giving massive food packages so they could stay at home safely.
Two years later, we’ve given 618,464 meals (a family of four eating twice a day for 14 days) to 5,522 families all over Bali. We’ve dug water wells, created Baa Baa Goat farms, and built homes high in the mountain jungle. We’re completely transparent so donors can see exactly who they help in Bali and how.
So I guess our pride led to our greatest accomplishment, Feed Bali.
What impact have you made in Bali?
The impact we feel is seeing the relieved faces of thousands and thousands of Balinese mums, dads, and grandparents when they see the size of their two-week food package. After the relief, you see the smiles and the hope in their eyes. That someone is reaching out from the other side of the world crossing the bridge that Feed Bali built and feeding not only their tummies but also their spirits. Feed Bali has given us faith in humanity when so many terrible things are happening.
What does 2022 look like for you?
We’ve reopened our Little Wooden Cottages, situated high above the sacred River Petanu, minutes outside of Central Ubud. Learn about our rich culture and experience the real Bali when you stay with us. Cocoon yourself in the comforts of our Little Wooden Cottage or explore nearby temples and the artistic village of Ubud.
We’ll also be cooking up Tresna Bali Feasts featuring traditional ceremonial dishes that we had taught at Tresna Bali Cooking School. These will be intimate feasts where 14 guests will gather in our food gardens, pound their own peanut sauce and flip their own pandan coconut crepes as part of our unique experience.
Feed Bali will continue to feed families and grow our sustainable solutions for a better Bali. Our “Baa Baa Goat” program gives goat shelters and goats to impoverished families to breed. Goats require little space, water and eat wild vegetation that can be found in all areas of Bali, even in the driest villages. We have four “Baa Baa Goat” farms. A dedicated sponsor will give a male goat and two female goats for every goat shelter that we fund. Each goat shelter costs IDR 6,000,000 to build and this sponsor will give enough goats for up to five shelters. Please donate any amount to Feed Bali with a note to “Goat Shelter”.
We’ve expanded our “Adopt a Family” program, focusing on families with children who need support for school and nutritious food for their healthy development. At this point, we have 42 dedicated sponsors who’ve adopted families for a minimum of three months. Each month, Feed Bali gives each family a two-week package of food and IDR 400,000 cash for essentials.
What do you love most about Bali?
How Balinese people touch the hearts of so many who’ve visited Bali. Thousands of donors helped create our Feed Bali community. When we give food to one Balinese family, we know that it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll share their bounty with their extended family or neighbours in their village.
What's the one change in the world you’d like to see?
One? Only One? That’s hard. If I could change just one thing in Bali, it would be that every business, especially hotels, villas, restaurants and shops must hire Balinese from top to bottom. The pandemic revealed the widespread poverty of the everyday Balinese people that has been simmering under the surface for two decades of explosive tourism growth. Balinese were given menial entry level jobs and denied opportunities because of the Balinese way of life. Sadly, Balinese people are passed over for well-paid jobs and management opportunities because Balinese are tied to village and temple ceremonial duties.
To protect the Balinese way of life and provide secure livelihoods as well as important management skills, all management jobs could be shared between two qualified Balinese with ONE management salary. Businesses benefit from having two managers who cover for each other and work 20 days per month with 5 days overlapping for the two managers while Balinese benefit from a higher take-home salary, progressive careers and being able to partake in their temple and village ceremonial duties which are mandatory.
For the world, I’d like to see every single person give part of themselves every day. And I’d like the size of their gift to match their capability and resources. If every single person gave a little or a lot every day, humanity would transform.
Who is your Local Legend and why?
That would be my husband, Adi Ardika. He’s been my romantic hero since the first day I met him. After more than twenty years together, Adi continues to amaze me and prove there are no limits to generosity or human kindness. I once read that the definition of generosity is “giving more than you can and taking less than you deserve.” This is Adi and why he’s my Local Legend.