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Sulphur – The Brutal side of Food & Beauty

The journey starts with a comfortable 3.8 km hike up the slop of a volcano to the rim of the crater. Next follows an almost 175 meters vertical drop down into the steaming, smoking gut of the volcano. The porters then need to protect their faces with mostly a wet rug and step right into the poisonous fumes and chip out blocks of the hardened sulfur with which they fill two baskets weighting each about 35-40 kg. A bamboo stick then connects the basket and the porters carry the load back up to the rim of the volcano and  then almost 4 kilometers down to the collection point. The entire journey for one load takes approximately 5 hours for which the porters receives 800 Rupiahs (7 cent US) per kilogram.

The mathematics

One porter makes two trips daily,  and this six days in a row,  and then has to rest for one week.

800 Rupiahs per kg x 70 = Rp.56’000

2 loads a day = Rp.112’00

All this hard work for less then = US$ 10 a day

Average life expectation 45 years


Obviously we always have plenty of empty space on our pick up truck and as a result we work hard to fill up all the empty space with your old clothes. We are certain that in your wardrobe you have plenty of linen that you have not worn for the past 12 months, making it an absolute nuisance to keep them any longer. They get dusty moldy and for certain they are badly out of fashion. As you very well know , we always run out of storage areas and periodic clearing is always most welcome. Please keep in mind that the mining area for the sulfur is at an elevation of 1500 meters over sea level and as such nights can be bitterly cold. This again means that even winter or baby clothes are most welcome. Unfortunately ball room dresses are not of much use……

Providing a future for kids

It makes us incredible proud that with your generous help we where able to proving funding for 32 children of of these porters to go to school for one year. As part of our last visit  we visit the school directly and handed over funds in return for proper documentations. This will guarantee that each and every Rupiah donated will reach the people in need. US$100 will provide a brighter future for one child. Perhaps you like to sponsor one child? As part of our next visit in April we will support 26 more children and at the same time assist the school with audio visual equipment’s and desperately needed computers.

Update from our January 2014  excursion

We are happy to share with you some images from our latest trip to East Java in late January 2014 where we where able to help a total of 263 Sulfur Porters. This time 14 of our team members from the restaurants took time off to assist with the fair distribution of lots of little goodies. This time each porter received a mask, a special type of working shoe, a packet of cloth as part of your donations, and one days wage. Despite the fact that all your kind donations bring a little sunshine into the brutal life’s of these porters, this trips continue to break our hearts, for knowing that only a few hours from a very comfortable life style in Bali, people virtually kill themselves to make a living. Especially when you consider that the sulfur they carry eventually makes our comfortable life style even better and more enjoyable. Most sulfur is used in the cosmetic and food manufacturing industry.

Please Help

During our journeys to East Java we have met, and become friends with many of these porters. We now have committed ourselves to help these brutally hard working porters and their families as often as possible with clothes and some financial assistance. At least 3 times a year we load up a small truck full of essentials and drive for four hours across Bali. In Gilimanuk we board a ferry for an hour and continue our journey in East Java where it will take a further three hours to reach the remote but exceptionally picturesque caldera of Kawah Ijen.

Searching for a creative design

As we can see from the above images the load between 60 to 100 kg sits always on one shoulder. Frequently during their brutal 4.5 km journey the load moves from one shoulder to the other. Meaning that the entire load weights continuously down on one shoulder. Anyone ever carried 75 kg (most of us struggle with 30 kg) know that this is a serious inhumane task. Now there is no point of thinking of developing mechanical ways of mining, which would mean no more work and income for many of the porters. Why not to design a yoke like device, perhaps manufactured by super strong, light weight and bouncing carbon fiber, that allows to attach two baskets. The carbon fiber device bends around the neck and is cushioned by some sort of material offering some protection to the bear skin. It would be amazing if as part of an engineering project a university could design a device that makes the brutally hard work of the porters a little more bearable.

Donate generously

Perhaps you wish to join us in our efforts to bring just a little sunshine into the dull lives of these incredible hard working people. To do so, simply bring your aged cloth to Bali, give us a call and we will pick them up from your hotel. We will wash each piece and make 100% certain that each and every piece of cloth or shoes will reach the right person.

To help a child please transfer funds to following accounts

In Indonesia

  • Ketut Puji Aniki Oka, Bank International Indonesia
Cabang Nusa Dua Bali, Indonesia
  • AC # Rupiah 1037023939
  • AC # US$ 2037 80283 9 SWIFT CODE # IBBK IDTA

From Australia

  • von Holzen Heinz
  • ANZ Bank
  • 23 Sunshine Beach Road, Nusa Heads 4567
  • Account # 5110 99532
  • BSB 014 677

For US $ Dollars

  • Heinz von Holzen
  • Account Number:   243 045317 270
  • HSBC Bank – Singapore (US$ Account)
  • Branch Address:  21 Collyer Quay #01-01 HSBC Building (Collyer Quay Branch), S(049320)
  • Swiftcode:   HSBCSGSG
  • Bank Code:   7232

Please do mention Kawah Ijen Children Education

Regardless how big or small your contribution, it will bring a little glimpse of hope for a better life. You can make a great difference in a harsh world.

Giving and helping has to be one of the greatest joys in life