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Twenty One Years On, the Annika Linden Centre Continues Assisting and Rehabilitating the Physically Challenged

Mark Weingard – creating light from darkness.

It was October 12th, 2002: Terrorist bombs in Bali killed 202 people. Among them was Mark Weingard’s girlfriend, Annika Linden. Devastated by his loss, Mark wanted to create something positive from the tragic events of that day and immediately started to help those affected by the bombings. The following year, he set up a philanthropic foundation which has grown into a leading grant-making foundation. The tragedy of the Bali bombings also led to the creation of the Annika Linden Centre as a memorial for Annika and a place to have long-lasting impact and social change within Indonesia.

What led you to start giving?

When I lost Annika in the Bali bombings, I realized that I had to do something to make a difference. I didn’t want her passing to be something that was just negative, and so, the following week, I donated all my business’ revenue to charity and set up a Foundation, now known as Inspirasia Foundation, as a vehicle for my personal giving.

The year after the bombings, we started working directly with small NGOs on the island through the Foundation. I wanted to find small organizations so that we could help grow, not just through funding but by working hand in hand with them, helping them turn into organizations that really made a difference. Over the next 10 years, we worked with some of the finest NGOs on this island, taking them from organizations that helped ten or twenty people, to organizations that were changing the lives of several thousand people.

Tell us more about the initiatives you support in Bali and the impact they have had on the Balinese people.

As we were coming up to the Foundation’s 10th anniversary, I realized we needed a home for the organizations we supported. So I decided to create the Annika Linden Centre as a centre for excellence in disability and home to Puspadi Bali, YPK Bali and DNetwork, who had grown to become exceptional NGOs and leaders in their fields.

Puspadi Bali has helped over 8,000 people by providing them with prosthetic & orthotic, wheelchair and other support; with 190 children with a disability being provided with education and over 1,000 people provided with physical rehabilitation through YPK Bali; in addition, over 350 people with a disability have been connected to an employment through DNetwork.

Over the years, we have also supported other leading NGOs, including East Bali Poverty Project, which aims to eliminate poverty in impoverished rural areas in East Bali, Yayasan Rama Sesana which provides education and health services for low-income women in Bali, and other inspiring organizations overseas too.

What is your vision for Annika Linden Centre?

Version 3 of Inspirasia will be a Bali-based foundation supported primarily by local companies. We aim to gather partners who are on this island, companies that are based here and individuals that live here, who will partner up to grow what we are doing today. We have spent over US$10 million in Bali to bring these organizations to where they are today. We now need matching partners – whether it be hotels, real estate companies, telecommunication companies – and a locally-based Board to take over the reins. Our aim is to raise US$100k from the local community in 2024 and we wish to increase that by US$100k each year so that the NGOs we support, which are amongst the best trained and most transparent on the island, can have a lasting impact on the island.

What would you suggest for those that want to support but cannot give financially?

There are thousands of people with a disability in Indonesia that are looking for a job. Last year, DNetwork connected 83 people with a disability with work in Indonesia. We are looking for companies who would like to offer people with a disability employment, to help them to reach their full potential, empower them to be financially independent and help the company to be more inclusive. Through DNetwork, we can help companies find an employee with a disability who has many abilities.

As someone who has created several successful businesses and done a lot of good through philanthropic work, what is your idea of success in life?

I believe that to be a success in life one should not be measured by the wealth you achieve, by the fame or power you have or the people you know. It should be measured by the positive impact you have created, what you brought to other people’s lives, the respect you have earned and the inspiration you have given. Through this you have truly achieved.

For me, the biggest compliment one can give is that you are inspirational. That you and your actions inspired others to do good things. Our Foundation is not just about helping the disadvantaged reach beyond their expectations in life, but also inspiring other businesses and individuals to be part of the impact, to give back to their communities in any way, shape or form they can, and to make a difference in the world.