From Solemen to SoleFamily Bali
After two decades in the UK and Japanese fashion industry, Solemen’s Founder, Robert Epstone, following ten years in Shanghai arrived in Bali in 2009 intending to relax in retirement. After being involved in a 15-month project building wells in East Sumba for the Rotary Club of Bali Seminyak, he made the decision to start his own NGO and give back to the island he has chosen to retire in.
Robert pledged to go barefoot until he had raised $1 million for his foundation (a milestone reached several years ago), and Yayasan Solemen Indonesia was born.
In 2011 he completed his first barefoot walk of 535km around Bali, stopping at various villages to conduct workshops and medical health checks where most of the villages had never seen a doctor. His second barefoot walk in 2012 saw him operated on a school desk for a serious foot injury and ended with Robert completing the walk despite being on crutches. What initially was a decision driven by empathy for those who couldn’t afford to wear shoes, became a way to establish credibility for himself as someone with integrity, as an honest, reliable, and passionate person people could trust to lead a charity.
Meeting ‘Angel’ Sarah Chapman was a real turning point for Solemen. Kadek Ani, eight years old and six kilos, fortuitously brought Robert and Sarah together. Sarah, a retired nurse with 28 years of nursing experience in the UK, had been riding on the back of a motorbike 6 hours a day, 3 days a week, to visit Ani who was severely malnourished with multiple health issues. Robert reached out after reading her story on Facebook and together, they made sure that Ani received the care and medical attention she needed until she sadly died a few months after meeting her. Her legacy continues as the catalyst inspiring the birth of Solemen’s Outreach programme.
Sarah and Robert have since been passionate, and tireless volunteers dedicating their lives to the people of Bali, and putting smiles on the faces of those most in need.
Founded in 2011, Yayasan Solemen Indonesia is a non-profit health organisation who has gained a growing reputation as one of the most respected and reputable NGOs in Bali.
As we now care for over 800 families, we came to realise that our responsibility and desire to help, does not stop only with the individual SoleBuddies. We want to provide support, advice, medical and health care, and a shoulder to lean on, to the entire family. And so Solemen has embraced a new name that accurately shows our reach – SoleFamily Bali.
SoleFamily Bali’s driving passion is to alleviate the suffering of so many in Bali through community outreach, medical intervention, food aid, education, and when needed disaster response. SoleFamily Bali’s activities benefit the sick, the poor, the disabled, and the marginalised in Bali.
SoleFamily Bali change the lives of people of all ages and all religions throughout Bali by bringing hope and sustainable solutions to those unable to access healthcare.
SoleFamily Bali are now looking after the daily needs of approaching three thousand “SoleBuddies”, their affectionate term for those under their care. They have a talented board of directors, dedicated managers, and an outstanding team of outreach and administrative staff. Their overheads are well known to be kept at an absolute minimum.
SoleFamily Bali needs your help
Not just in monetary terms, but also food, clothing, mobility/disability aids, sponsors and more.
Please review the wish list to view what is currently needed. SoleFamily Bali hopes that you can help them help the SoleBuddies as well as enjoy the beautiful island that is Bali.
Changing Lives In Bali
Every SoleBuddy and their family needs our support, and we need your support so we can continue their medical care, their emotional welfare, and to be their shoulder to lean on.