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Ayu Tini is 15 years old and lives in Lodtunduh. When she was born, she got poisoned from the water and had to stay in the hospital for 25 days. She lived in an incubator for eleven days until she was strong again. After she came home, she came down with a fever every week and was very weak for a few years. She attended kindergarten when she was five years old, but it was too difficult for her to follow the classes, so she stayed home after one year. She started going to Sjaki-Tari-Us when she was nine years old. Ayu Tini started working at the Warung at Sjaki-Tari-Us. She can clean and cook, and her family is very proud of her. She can earn money and take care of herself. Ayu Tini likes to take care of her classmates and always helps the teachers when she is not busy at the warung. She is the big sister of the group and loves her classmates, and everybody likes her. She regularly walks arm-in-arm with people and likes to cuddle. In general, Ayu Tini is shy and not very confident about herself. During the Photo Voice project, her parents noticed that she was becoming more confident because she was using the camera. Ayu Tini is a modest person but once you get to know her, she will be your best friend. Ayu Tini has a special view of the world and she loves bright colors. She is sometimes quiet but she is always watching out and making sure that everybody feels comfortable.


This is the favorite picture of Ayu Tini. She loves her grandfather and takes care of him.


Ayu Tini likes to participate during the ceremonies because the Balinese tradition is very important for her.





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Putu is 25 years old and was born in Lodtunduh. When Putu was born, he had a low IQ. He went to kindergarten but couldn’t follow along with the classes, and his behaviour was not very good. From the moment he stayed home until he started going to Sjaki-Tari-Us in 2008, he was frequently together with Ayu Widia. He always comes to school together with Ayu Widia. They are often together, they laugh a lot and they take care of each other. Putu is the silent observer of the class, but he gets a twinkle in his eye when he likes something so you can easily tell when he is happy. Putu likes to watch TV, hang out with his dog, and fly kites. He makes the kites himself first and then goes out to fly them. Putu loves to attend ceremonies and has many outfits to wear. Balinese culture is very important to him and he likes to help his family. He is very sweet and polite, and always says hello, goodbye and thank you. His brother wanted to use the camera for example, but Putu said no because it was not his camera and he needs to be careful with it. He is quiet and a little bit shy, but he has an interesting way of looking at the world. He really enjoyed the Photo Voice project and taking pictures. He was very shy at the beginning and only took a few pictures, but after a while he took more and more pictures and he had a lot of fun during the process. He really likes to take pictures of nature and the environment.


This is the favorite picture of Putu because he likes butterfly’s. He likes the colours and shapes. Putu loves nature in general.


These pictures show how he walks from his house to school and what he sees on the way.

Read the story of Ayu Tini tomorrow!




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Ayu Widia is twenty-two years old and was born in Lodtunduh. She was a healthy baby when she was born. After seven months, she came down with a high fever and her parents brought her to the hospital. She recovered, but at the age of two, the fever came back. The doctors found that one of her nerves was stuck between her spine such that she needed an operation. The operation came with the risk of mental or physical problems, but her parents wanted to save her life no matter what. Ayu Widia never went to school, but her parents taught her the things she needed to learn at home. She was often upset and angry, but after she began going to Sjaki-Tari-Us almost ten years ago, she has become more calm and happy. Ayu Widia acts as mother of the group at Sjaki-Tari-Us. She ensures that the students work together, corrects her classmates when they do something wrong, and she always helps others. Furthermore, Ayu Widia wants to be close with others. In the morning she always cuddles with the moms and teachers at Sjaki-Tari-Us. Every morning she picks up Putu before she goes to school and she makes Putu feel comfortable. Ayu Widia likes to make herself up, watch TV and sew. Later, Ayu Widia would like to become a model. She often makes herself up with make-up and practices walking as if she is walking the catwalk. She would like to wear heels. We noticed that Ayu Widia has her own style with making pictures. She uses different techniques every time depending on what the environment looks like. If she really likes something, she is not afraid to get very close to take the picture. She was really happy to experiment with the camera!


This is Ayu Widia her favorite picture because she likes to play with the girl from next door. They are like sisters to each other.


Ayu Widia is very happy with her parents. They specially changed their outfit for the picture.


Ayu Widia likes to make portrait pictures.

Read the story of Putu tomorrow!



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Oki is thirty-one years old and was born in Denpasar. His parents saw that he had Down Syndrome when he was born and the doctor said that that would never change. His parents always took him to the beach, they went to therapy every week and they gave him the best food to support him. Oki always wanted to go to school. When he was young, he would run around Ubud with a notebook and pen in his hand. He started coming to Sjaki-Tari-Us when he was twenty-two years old and is very passionate about learning things and going to school. However, sometimes he does not come to school for a few days because he wants to stay and play with his best friend, Cuplis. Cuplis and Oki are always together. Cuplis does not attend Sjaki-Tari-Us anymore and Oki really misses Cuplis. Oki’s parents are worried because Oki wants to go to Cuplis’ house so often that he forgets that he has to go to Sjaki–Tari–Us. During the project, Oki took lots of pictures at Cuplis’ house because he wants to show the world how Cuplis lives. Oki feels sorry for Cuplis because he only lives with his mother and they don’t have many things. Oki likes to sleep together in bed with Cuplis and that is why he likes this picture. At school Oki often takes the lead in the group and is the one who always tries everything first. Oki cares for the group and it would be difficult not to become friends with him. He likes to draw letters and numbers in 3-D all the time and his room is full of drawings. He is not shy and would like to be in the spotlight. With his cheerfulness and personality, he is an asset to Sjaki-Tari-Us!


This is Oki his favorite picture because he likes grandmothers. This is the mother of his best friend Cuplis but they are so close that it feels like his second mother.


This is the room of Cuplis. Oki likes to visit Cuplis to drink tea and have sleepovers.

Read the story of Ayu Widia tomorrow!



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Sasta is eleven years old and was born in the hospital in Klungkung. His mother started bleeding when she was four months pregnant, and the doctor said that Sasta had a five percent chance of surviving. When Sasta was born, everything appeared normal, but he developed slowly. It was difficult for him to learn and to walk, and he didn’t start talking until he was six years old. Sasta first went to primary school, but he had difficulty concentrating and the classes were too hard for him. It was difficult for him to get up in the morning and he didn’t have a lot of energy. Now that he goes to school at Sjaki-Tari-Us, he wakes up every morning, takes a shower, goes to the toilet and puts on his clothes, and makes himself ready for the driver to pick him up. Sasta is a special boy who likes to be surrounded by people. He regularly sits close the teacher during classes or surrounds himself with friends. In his free time, he cycles through the village with his bicycle, goes to the beach to fly kites, and takes care of the animals at home. Sasta’s best friend is Romi and at school they are always together. If something is wrong with his classmates, he tries to put the person at ease. Sasta is a boy who likes to be surrounded by nature and goes on adventures. He loves to take care of animals and feed them. He is an explorer and always curious when people are making or building something. He likes to watch how people do it so that he can learn from it.


This is the favorite picture of Sasta, because he likes to feed the chicken at home. This is the first thing he is doing when he arrive home from school.


Sasta likes to play with his friends in the village and cycle around on his bicycle.


When Sasta came home after taking this picture he showed the picture to his father because he was so surprised that a person sat on the tree trunk like a monkey.

Read the story of Oki tomorrow!



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Romi is eleven years old and born in Klungkung. He has been going to Sjaki-Tari-Us for one and a half years now. He is very happy to have a place to learn and play with other children. Romi is a boy who first watches and waits before mixing with a group. He is very curious and eager to learn things. Romi likes to take care of others and is very empathetic. When someone does not feel comfortable in the classroom, he directly goes to Iluh, the headmaster, to tell her that the person is not feeling well. He used to have problems in primary school because the classes were too difficult. He wanted to be normal like the other children and asked his mother to take him to the doctor, because he had the feeling that something was wrong in his head. He understands more about himself now, so that when a lesson is too difficult, he is able to say so. At the moment, he dances the traditional dance ‘the monkey’ with the Barong at ceremonies and really enjoys it. Romi also has a dream to go abroad together with the volunteers from Sjaki-Tari-Us. He told his mother that she should not be sad when he takes an airplane one day, because he will come back after he has worked abroad and fulfilled his dream.


This is the favorite picture of Romi. He likes to make pictures of flowers because they use a lot of flowers during the ceremonies.


Romi likes to walk to the beach and enjoy his afternoon. Romi has the quality of making pictures of objects he sees. He has a special view of the world.

Read the story of Sasta tomorrow!



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A photograph makes a connection on an emotional, mental and physical level. Photographs say something about our identity: how do we want to be seen by the outside world, and why do we choose to take the pictures that we do? Photography shows us how we see the world and can change our outlook. We always try to understand images and place them into context. We view photographs from our own unique perspective: our own experiences, fears, dreams, norms and values.

Photography can be used for personal development, to spark communication, and to stimulate creativity in target groups. The project ‘’Do You See What Eye See’’ worked with Students from Sjaki-Tari-Us, a school for people with a mental disability.

Who are we?

Merel van den Berg and Simone Karssen are two students from Holland. They are studying sociocultural development in Utrecht. They were inspired to work with people with special needs after their internships last year. Simone worked at a school with teenagers in Holland, and Merel worked at Sjaki-Tari-Us in Ubud. After leaving Bali the first time, Merel had the feeling that she was not quite done yet, and came back to continue working with Sjaki-Tari-Us. Together, they made this project happen. Their aim is to invite people to become active participates, and to cultivate the integration of individuals and groups into society, in ways that will overcome social and cultural exclusion.

Art-Based Research

This project is an art-based research, or a research done in a creative way. The target group of students have difficulty expressing themselves with words, but they can express themselves in other ways if given the chance.

Merel and Simone used a medium called Photo Voice. Photo Voice is a method that gives a group of people a voice they usually don’t have. This method relies on the power of images, which can express a person’s thoughts, feelings, and values without using any words. Photography gives them a voice!



The participants in “Do You See What Eye See” go to school at Sjaki-Tari-Us. Sjaki-Tari-Us is a school for children with mental disabilities, although Merel and Simone prefer to say ‘special needs’ : every person has their own talents and abilities. Most of the students would have no other place to go if not for Sjaki-Tari-Us. We believe that everybody has the right to grow, to develop and earn a place in society. At Sjaki-Tari-Us, the students have a place where they are accepted for who they are and are able to grow from there. This project is about helping the students of Sjaki-Tari-Us to develop, and to spread awareness about people with special needs in society.


The students worked with a camera for several months. Merel and Simone taught them how to use the camera and gave them the freedom to take pictures of their daily lives. The most important thing is that their participants got to do something new, something challenging, something fun, and something they learned from. Merel and Simone used “Do You See What Eye See” to empower the students. In return, the students inspired Merel and Simone, surprised them and gave them a lot of positivity. The audience is able to see the life of the students, through their own eyes. We can hear their voices through the artistic medium of photography. We can hear their voices. We heard their voices!

For the next coming days we will introduce the stories and pictures of our participants one by one.


DSC_1005 (2)Ana is eighteen years old and was born in Klungkung. Ana has been going to Sjaki-Tari-Us for one and a half years now. With his big smile and friendly face, Ana is the joker of the class. When Ana was a kid, he developed differently than other children. He was slow to learn to crawl and walk, and he didn’t start talking until he was four years old. His parents brought him to a traditional healer because they wanted him to be more like ‘normal’ kids. He went to kindergarten for one year at the age of seven, and then primary school for three years after that. After three years, the headmaster told his father that he couldn’t follow the classes because the classes were too difficult for him. He then spent a few years at home before he started going to Sjaki-Tari-Us. Ana used to go around the village a lot. Sometimes people would bully him because he was different from the others. People would gossip that he couldn’t do anything and that he was crazy. When Sjaki’s Got Talent (a talent show at Sjaki-Tari-Us) was organized, he danced the Barong. His father was so impressed and proud of his son that he bought a Barong outfit for Ana. Now Ana dances the Barong during ceremonies. The people in the village admire Ana now. He is no longer bullied, and people always ask for his help at ceremonies. He also likes to play Gamelan every Saturday. When Ana returns home from school, he helps around the house with cleaning and taking care of his grandfather. He spends more time at home now and enjoys the time with his family. Ana is someone with a very special personality and we can learn a lot from him. When he likes something, he dedicates himself to it completely and no one can stop him. We even saw this while working on this Photo Project. Ana was so enthusiastic about making the pictures that he directly asked us for a camera as soon as he saw us.


This is the favorite picture of Ana because this is the Barong outfit his father bought for him. Now Ana is dancing during ceremonies in his village.


The father of Ana is his big example for his life.


Ana is very enthusiastic about the Balinese tradition and is always ready to help.

Read the story of Romi tomorrow!