If you live in Bali, especially within a small village (Kampung) and know the families, then I partially agree that one can direct their charity directly to where one might think it can be best used…but this is not without potential pitfalls. And this would be the same elsewhere in Indonesia as well.
Pitfall number one is that this approach can create jealousy. Pitfall number two is that you chose the wrong family because you aren’t really aware of their financial situation, or their “real need.” I personally never recommend that expats give on the basis of what they themselves perceive as being real need, but rather to rely on the village head, (the kepala desa) to at least identify those families where the need is real, and greatest.
Sure, I can appreciate the greater source of personal gratification when stopping by a poor family and leaving bags of rice, clothing, toys, medicines, etc. But let’s be honest…that is not charity…rather, that is the pursuit of self gratification.
Charity is best when it is left in the hands of professionals who understand far better than you where the real and urgent needs are to be found. That is especially true in Indonesia where foreigners are most unlikely to be qualified to determine those needs on their own.
A funny, but true story I like to tell to illustrate my point comes from a visit to us in Bali from a very long time friend.
My wife and I were driving him around our neck of the woods on back roads so he could get a good sense of the villages and enjoy the endless rice fields. As we made a turn, out from the sawah (rice field) on the right side, a very old man was emerging from his field. He was ancient, gaunt, dressed in rags and a tattered straw hat. My friend asked us to stop (we thought to take a photo), but that wasn’t his reason. He produced a 100k note from his pocket and handed it to the man who reluctantly took it, all the while with a look of great perplexion on his face.
Back in the car our friend went on and on about that “poor old man” who in his opinion probably hadn’t seen a 100k rupiah note in some time. I finally decided to set things straight, even though I knew it would embarrass our friend.
“That old man you gave money to is Pak Agung” I explained. “That is just one of his several rice fields, now amounting to over 5 hectars. He used to own 8 hectars, but he just sold three of them to the Alila Hotel for a million US…in cash.”