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A tale of where equality exists in this small village in Bali

For anyone visiting Bali, English would be the universal communication tool being used even with the local -if we compare with any other location in Indonesia. Apart from the local tourists, not so many foreigners are able to speak in Bahasa Indonesia, let alone Balinese language. Only local residents would be able to understand the local language.

Not only Balinese language is true to the local, what is even more unique is that in the middle of a forest in Northern part of Bali, exist a language that only able to be understood by the local living there. This language is consolidated geographically, foreign even for local people; this language is called kata kolok, a language that is never be spoken.

Kata kolok or known as sign language for deaf people is a unique local language, independent from any international and even national sign language. Kata kolok has been used as a communication tool in Bengkala village for over seven generations long, where 44 of its 3003 residents are deaf. In Balinese language, Bengkala is sometimes called as Desa Kolok or the village of the deaf.

The high percentage of deaf people in Bengkala is caused by geographically-centric recessive gene named DFNB3 that has been part of the village for over seven generations. Over years, the local residents believes that the deaf itself is caused by curse.

“The myth that has been going around says that two people with magical power fought each others and curse each others to become deaf,” said former Bengkala Mayor, Ida Mardana who himself speaks Balinese, Bahasa Indonesia, and English as well as the kata kolok. “The meaning of Bengkala is a place to shelter.”

The people in Bengkala empower us to encourage the deaf instead of alienating them. They do it by actually adapting and learning the language so they can communicate with them. In this village, people uses their hands to speak.

Kata kolok is being taught to the children both at home and school as second or third language, sowing the equality seed to grow once they are older. Almost 10% of the residents has recessive gene of being deaf, so this act is also an act of preparation for the future.

That being said, kata kolok is not only belong to the deaf, but everyone in Bengkala village.

The disparity between deaf and not in this village is almost none compare to any other places in the world. “I feel that I am just the same with the rest,” said Wayan Sandi, a 72 years old deaf from Bengkala, using his index finger emphasizing the word equal, “we all are one in this community.”

Seeing this harmony that exists in this village, doesn’t it make you want to pay a visit to the village?

In case this makes you think about visiting Bali, hey hey we can help you out ;)

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