Started by a group of concerned surfers in 2000 who were struck by the needless suffering and preventable death in the Mentawai Islands. Today we are proud that more than 95 per cent of our program staff are Indonesian nationals who work hand-in-hand with the communities of Western Sumatra, Sumbawa and Sumba, to bring about positive, sustainable health change while respecting the unique culture and customs of these islands communities.
SurfAid is an international development organisation that is dedicated to enriching lives, and increasing people’s choices and possibilities for realising their potential. We work with, and in support of, the community - from the idea for a program to the implementation of the program.
The simplest definition of community development is ‘positive change’. SurfAid supports bringing positive change to remote communities. SurfAid contributes to the efforts of communities to nurture positive change, and ensure local ownership so changes can be sustained well beyond the life of the project. We hope to see the impacts of our work extend for generations to come.
The ongoing support of the surfing community, and many others, has allowed SurfAid to deliver the highest calibre development programs. This is driven by relationships built on mutual respect with the local people. We aim to have relationships that ensure long-term engagement, enhance learning with our partners, are adaptable, and attract and retain staff of the highest quality and integrity.
SurfAid gives the highest priority to the needs of the people we work with and we are committed to the remote locations where they live. We work with our local partners in project identification, assessment, design and preparation, implementation, right through to completion and impact evaluation.
We consider aspects of people’s lives that impact on their health such as livelihoods, belief systems and social structures. In collaboration with the communities, a more detailed project design is then developed.
We will create opportunities for learning and working together towards a common goal, encouraging people to take an active role in establishing their own healthy and resilient communities.
All people have a right to access quality basic services regardless of where they live. We believe all people can contribute to their own development, given the right opportunities and a voice to share their challenges, ideas and wisdom. SurfAid is respectful to local values and customs and will find creative ways to enrich, rather than change, local culture.
SurfAid understands that alone we can only contribute to positive change. To bring about lasting change we work with communities, local government departments, local influencers and decision-makers. Our aim is to be as inclusive as possible, listening to all our stakeholders.
We are aware that we are only guardians of the funds that are entrusted to us to deliver positive change to remote communities. We commit to being exceptional stewards of our donor’s funds and as such will use the funds in the most effective and efficient manner. We strive to accurately measure our impact as an organisation and be truly accountable to our partners and the people we serve.
We aspire to deliver the most effective programs, using the highest standards of development practice, and to be recognised by relevant accreditation and professional agencies.
In 1999, physician and surfer Dr Dave Jenkins went on a surf charter to the Mentawai Islands with one goal in mind - to find perfect waves.
What he discovered changed his life ...
The SurfAid story started in 1999 on a regular surf trip to the chain of islands off the coast of Sumatra, the Mentawais. The region is home to 76,000 people and some of the most perfect reef surf breaks the world has to offer. I was a career-focused doctor working out of Singapore and, taking a break from a stressful corporate directorship, arrived in the islands with the aim of feeding myself upon the buffet of tropical waves on offer. I wasn’t disappointed.
However, late one afternoon on what I thought would be a harmless tourist venture inland to one of the villages, my beliefs in what is important in life were changed forever. After walking past the graveyard and seeing a lot of very small graves I ended up running a clinic at the chief’s request. I was the first doctor ever to visit the village. I saw women and children dying from malaria, malnutrition and inadequate living standards - things that I knew were treatable and, better still, preventable by helping them change behaviours such as basic hygiene and better breastfeeding practices.
The scene haunted me for the rest of the trip, and followed me back to Singapore where I began questioning my life. Did it have meaning? Were my skills wasted chasing some corporate carrot? What if I could make a real difference to these people? The thought of more children dying drove me mad with frustration and helplessness yet, at the same time and in some strange way, the potential solutions inspired me. I couldn’t just walk away from those kids; I vowed to return to the Mentawai with people and supplies.
After wrestling with my voices of self-interest, I left my job and headed home to a new challenge and called upon two of my closest friends - Dr Steve Hathaway, a world-renowned public health specialist, and lawyer Phil Dreifuss . It was not only because they were mates but because I knew they had most of the talent that I lacked and that if they said yes, SurfAid had a fighting chance.
Within days we were diving for crayfish to entice the local surfing crew to a barbecue where they were sprung with the news that a quorum of 25 people was needed to sign up and pay $25 each to register as a legal non-profit in New Zealand. They signed, we paid, and on 26 January 2000 SurfAid was born full of shared hopes and dreams and crazy, overly ambitious plans. - Dr Dave Jenkins
On Friday 1 November 2013, 16 teams raised more than $180,000 for humanitarian organisation SurfAid in the OzForex SurfAid Cup, a tag team event involving former world champions, top pro surfers, sporting legends and the Sydney corporate community. OzForex Foreign Exchange won the fundraising trophy by raising nearly $32,000 and the Surfing Lawyers won the contest at Sydney's South Curl Curl Beach.
The Malibu Mavericks team, with four-time ASP World Champion Lisa Andersen onboard, took out the SurfAid Cup in one-to-two foot surf at Malibu, California, in September 2012. Eight teams raised more than $60,000 for SurfAid with WindanSea winning the fundraising trophy. Pros who donated their time to compete included Tom Curren, Joel Tudor, Nathaniel Curran, Simon Anderson, Courtney Conlogue, Jen Smith and Harrison Roach.
All proceeds raised is donated to SurfAid. Your contribution will support to improving the health, wellbeing and self-reliance of the island communities of Western Sumatra and Sumbawa through SurfAid. $25 would purchase a scale for a mother to weigh a baby – vital to the health of babies and young children, $50 would provide piping for a new water tap, $300 provides training for a midwife to assist with cleaner and safer births, $3,000 provides a malaria program – testing, nets and training – for an entire village. 50% OFF Quiksilver and Roxy E Vouchers available!
The real impact of SurfAid's work shines through when you read the personal stories from the field. Fighting poverty and improving living conditions is tougher than it seems, as there are many different and interlinked factors that contribute to the situation.