Tuesday, August 23, 2005, 09:29Newsletter June 09
14 Years and still going strong
This month marks Channa’s and my 14th wedding anniversary and also the anniversary of our 14 years in Indonesia since we came here on our honeymoon…..the honeymoon is still not over!
In the years we have spent here we have: lived on a tropical island with a local family, learning the language, cooking over a wood fire and doing our washing by hand;
run a café for surfing tourists, which doubled as a preschool for the local children;
had three children, two who were born in Padang.
We set up and ran a furniture factory that employed over 40 people;
worked on surf charter boats from the Mentawais to Aceh;
have traveled to all kinds of remote locations searching out building material to export to Australia;
Lived in Bali for a year (everyone should do this at some stage of their life!);
We refit the Indo Jiwa ( an adventure in itself!) and began Holidays with Purpose and the Local Empowerment Assistance Project (LEAP) just to list a few things.
We have been here through the fall of Suharto and the riots of 98; the separation of East Timor ; September 11; the US invasion of Iraq and the Bali bombs….. both of them; all times when there were travel warnings against visiting Indonesia. I have never felt afraid here, the people have always been so accepting, friendly and not at all violent. Sometimes the gentleness and passivity of the people can be frustrating when you are trying to “get something done” but ultimately it is this quality that we love so much….the easy smile, the ability to adapt to whatever life throws at them, the willingness to want to engage…”Hello Mister!” It makes us all the more inspired to help them to have access to the simple things that we take for granted…like health care, education, and clean water.
Our Kids Club coordinator, Icum has been out on the islands for the past month training the teachers, tweaking the curriculum and generally getting things in good working order. We will be sad to loose her as she has been recently accepted into a government job in the department of Environmental Protection…so look forward to seeing some big changes in the way things are run in this country now she is on the job! We wish her all the best for the future.
Icum has assisted in completing a one year curriculum for the Kids Clubs that can be photocopied and reused and can also be a valuable resource for other Preschools in remote or disadvantaged areas of Indonesia. Please contact us if you know of someone who could benefit from a copy! We have observed that the attendance rate at the kids clubs increases when we have volunteers with us, they love the fun and energy they bring as well as the chance to observe those strange white people up close.
I am in the process of interviewing all of previous canoes recipients to monitor the impact having a fiberglass canoe has made on their life. Let me share the first one with you:
Firman Baeha is 28 years old, he moved to the island of Asu from Afulu five years ago. He is married with three young girls and one on the way. Firman has been fishing since he was seven years old.
He originally came to Asu as a shark fisherman and then bought his own small wooden canoe that he would paddle and put out nets around the reefs. Eventually he was able to afford an engine for his canoe and began line fishing. Having the engine increased the area where he could fish and consequently his income. During the tourist season he would do a bit better when there was more of a market for his fish, but most of the time they had just enough to get by day to day. Saving every extra rupiah he managed to save up until he could pay for the deposit for a fiberglass canoe.
He has now been fishing with the fiberglass canoe for two years. He is now able to fish further out to sea, doesn’t need to pull his canoe up on the beach for re-caulking ( often from two to three weeks at a time) and is able to go fishing in all weather, and has spend almost nothing on maintenance.
Firman’s income has more than doubled.
He is now considered the wealthiest member of his family and has been able to assist in paying for two of his sibling’s weddings (a huge financial burden for most Niasian families). He has almost completely paid off his canoe and is paying off a motorbike that he uses on the mainland to take his fish to the market. He says he always has enough for the daily needs of his family. His wife has been able to go to the medical clinic on the mainland for regular health checks during her pregnancy and they will send their eldest daughter to school next year.
Firman told me he is very grateful for the programme that has so dramatically changed his life and hopes that his younger brother will be able to afford to get a canoe too in the future.
Thank you Steve Mahnken, the family of David Morris and everyone else who has contributed to make such an impact in the lives of families like Firman’s
The building for the new canoe workshop is almost complete with Channa and our diligent volunteers working hard over the past couple of weeks. They have had fun doing it too, not least learning about Indonesian building techniques!
The example garden on Asu is coming along well with little seedlings flourishing in all of our garden boxes. As I may have mentioned previously (and to anyone who will listen!) coral atolls are the most inhospitable soil type to try and grow anything in. What looks like lush fertile vegetation is really incredibly tenacious well adapted and inedible weeds! Apart from coconut trees…(this is the other problem! )Their roots form a mesh like web that sucks every bit of nutrients from the soil and strangles out anything you try to plant. The women of the island have tried unsuccessfully many times to plant vegetables, only to have them die out after a few months.
There is a dried out swamp (as a result of the land rise during the earthquake) in the middle of the island and many of the women are now growing their pig food there as well as a few vegetables. We have been providing seeds and are using our garden as a teaching resource for the women to stop and look and discuss gardening techniques as they go to and from their gardens in the swamp. We have begun a garden especially for the kids club where the children can experience the mystery of growth up close.
Holidays with Purpose
Our Holidays with Purpose and surf charter season is looking a bit patchy this year with the economic downturn taking its toll. We have a number of spots to fill and would like to offer them at a super discounted price for Holidays with Purpose groups. As you are aware, this is our major source of funding for the projects, so by joining us on the boat you can support a really worthwhile cause, see where your money is going directly and have an amazing adventure doing it!
$1675 US or $2065 AUD for 11 nights on the Indo Jiwa plus all domestic transport to and from the boat.
Note: this does not include hotels.
Available dates are: 27 July- 7th August
10 August- 21st August
24th August – 4th September
See you in Nias!
First trip of the season
We have just completed our first trip for the season, it was a great fun trip with a bunch of guys from Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The guys were all surfers so the swell chart was eagerly watched and although it didn’t look too promising to begin with, Channa still managed to find them uncrowded waves in the Banyaks, Afulu and the Hinakos. There were even some big days at Bawa to satisfy those with an adrenaline addiction. The boys had some fun at our kids clubs playing and interacting with the children. The children sang for them, and the boys reciprocated by performing the Haka, a Moari war dance for them, apart from the initial shock ( the little ones in the front nearly jumped out of their skin!), the kids loved it and all joined in. A comment in our guest book from one of this group “….. thanks for showing me that we as surfers have so much more to offer to the local people than I could have ever realized. It was such a humbling experience helping out the local kids, something that will last for ever…..” Chris Thompson, 19.
It was so nice to visit our Kids Clubs after a few months away and to see them continuing on in their own local flavour. We have been providing the teachers with a curriculum that is specially written for them each month and sent from Medan. After a year of using this curriculum and seeing the teaching modeled by both our educated staff and volunteers, the teachers are now being encouraged to write their own lesson plans. It was really encouraging to read some of these lessons on topics like “Why we raise pigs”, “Why we go fishing’’ and “ Looking after your siblings” all relevant topics to their daily lives. One answer from a child was a little concerning though…when asked “Why do we raise pigs?” he answered “To get money so we can buy ajinomoto ( monosodium glutamate)”
Time to start our health awareness programme!
Each time we return to the islands there is an ever growing fleet of colourful canoes moored in the bay. More and more people are willing to raise the money themselves to buy a canoe as they realize the long term benefits. Our sponsorship programme continues providing canoes for poor fishermen who then repay the cost, in interest free installments after they have begun fishing and earning money. This year we are planning build a workshop for the project to continue on in.
The Fanikha Hinako Virgin Coconut Oil factory has been chugging away over the past few months. They have now completed four orders for Lush UK and one for FTL trading in Australia since being handed over to local management. Their production efficiency is increasing and they are learning slowly but surely the painful art of administration. We are in the process of assisting them to set up their own foundation from which to administer the profits from the oil factory. They currently allocate 30% of the profits from oil sales to keep the kids clubs running and maintained. This is taking them one step closer to total autonomy.
This year our focus at the Pondok Rahmat Children’s home in Guningsitoli is to assist them to become food secure. We will provide them with a fibre-glass canoe from the Hinako project, that they will share with a local fisherman who will operate it for them. The next part of the plan is to expand their garden using a Permaculture system to ensure that the property is used to its maximum capacity. This will include a food forest, animal husbandry, bio gas, kitchen gardens and water collection systems. We are really excited about this programme as it will not only provide food for the 30 children and staff but will also educate the children, from over 10 different villages, with gardening skills that they will be able to share with their communities into the future. Viral education! Our volunteer, Basil Harrison from NZ has recently completed a Permaculture course in Australia and is keen to put his learning into practice. We are hoping for more volunteers to come and work alongside of us to make this dream a reality.
January 2009 Newsletter
Happy New Year Everyone!
I can’t quite believe that we are entering into our fifth year of Leap and Holidays with Purpose! The time seems to have flown by - then again sometimes it feels as though we have been doing this forever. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported us; trusted us; believed in us; prayed for us; come and joined us as a guest or volunteer and encouraged us. There would be no Leap if it wasn’t for you!
We are so excited about what 2009 has to offer. Right now, I (Ruby) am in Australia, planning and preparing for the upcoming season. We are planning to continue our work in the Banyak Islands also with the Orphanage in Nias ( Pondok Rahmat) and in the Hinako Islands. Some of the programs we are planning to run include home health and first aid awareness workshops, continued organic gardening programs; hopefully build our canoe workshop building (all these years and they are still working under a tent!); fun filled health awareness days for Primary school children and lots and lots more. A big part of what we do each year depends on who joins us as guests and volunteers and what each group has to offer…and everyone has something to offer! Whether you pick up a broom and sweep a floor, cuddle a child, conduct a medical examination or help construct a building, everyone has an important part to play. We are looking forward to seeing you this year and hearing from you with your comments and ideas.
I have been giving a lot of thought to the concept of community, and how it differs in the two worlds that I live in. In Indonesia in the island communities it is very much a geographical thing, it is strange for many of us in Australia or in a Western country to imagine being born in a town, going to school there, marrying someone you have known all your life, living next to the same family forever and dying in the one place. For many people in Asia and other parts of the world this is their reality. Community to them is a given, everyone knows their place in it and recognizes the fact that everyone is interdependent on one another.
For us westerners, community has a broader definition, it can be geographical but more often it is simply a “common unity”, of ideas, beliefs or interests.
As we have progressed with Leap over the past years I am beginning to see a community begin to develop around the common interests of social justice and our abilities to implement this…or as Channa is so fond of saying to “do something!” to combat poverty. I would encourage you to find ways in which you can become more connected with our community, whether it is through visiting us in Indonesia, joining us on a social network such as facebook* or becoming a member of our new website….more about that in a moment….there is strength in numbers and together we can make a difference to overcome poverty, person by person, community by community, and within ourselves as we reach out to others.
* Holidays with Purpose has social network pages on: myspace; virb/flickr/ twitter and facebook
We are really excited that the Leap/Holidays with Purpose team is growing! This year we welcome Mike and Tash Humberstone to the family. Mike and Tash will join us in Nias overseeing the bungalows on Asu. They will be looking after our volunteers…yes volunteer applications are now open! And running Holidays with Purpose land stay trips for those who are not so keen on boat life!
Erin Lewis joins us in the USA as our booking agent and contact person for Holidays with Purpose.
Matthew Burchette, also from the USA, came as a volunteer last year and will join us as an Indo Jiwa crew member this year. Basil Harrison from NZ, also a previous volunteer will be on the Indo Jiwa this year too, to make up a truly international crew.
Channa and Ruby and the gang will be on board the Indo Jiwa again this year; Richard and Johanna Wallace continue to import and market Sococo coconut oil products in Australia; Jason and Paula Sheedy have done a brilliant job on the new Holidays with Purpose website and continue to assist us in all things computerish. Matt and Reni Wau keep the fires burning in Medan doing all of the logistical side of things….as I said earlier there is strength in numbers…..
Check out our new Holidays with Purpose website! Jason and Paula Sheedy have spent every spare moment of their Christmas holidays working on the new site. Some of the exciting new features include a member login that you can access to add photos and comments and share your LEAP experiences with others. It is so simple to join, just click on “create new account” on the left side of the home page. Once you fill in your details you will be sent a password and instructions, then you can contribute stories, photos, videos to share!
If you are interested in having a similarly fabulous website for your business contact Jason and Paula through www.bytespring.com
Sampai Jumpa Lagi….Until we meet again
It is with mixed feelings that I sit here on our last day on Asu for this year. It has been our third year in the Hinako islands and once again it has been both challenging and exciting.
This year I ( Ruby) spent the first three months of our time here on Asu Island along with some wonderful volunteers. We had Keith and Ilsa from The Sunshine Coast in Australia both in their seventies, who were a great inspiration to us all. With them came Meg a teacher from Sydney who helped us to establish the Asu Coconut Kids Club and write an exciting new curriculum for use in both of the Kids Clubs. Andre from Brazil who was making a film joined us for a couple of weeks with his brother Filipe and their friend Mark from Australia. Alana from The US, an art and photography teacher came and helped us to add a creative element to our curriculum. Domitie and Gwendolin from France also joined in the fun of the coconut Kids club and last but certainly not least was David from Australia, also an art teacher who added even more fun and creativity to the children’s lives. We are so grateful to all of our volunteers for their efforts; they have truly made a difference to the Children of Asu and to our programme here.
Holidays with Purpose
Holidays with Purpose teams have been productive this year with a playground being built on Asu for the Kids Club. The foundations for the building of the Kids Club’s own facility have been laid and the floor is two thirds completed. Other groups helped to establish community example gardens in three villages. The Surfers Bible team constructed washing platforms around two of the community water pumps to be used by the women for washing their clothes. Every group had loads of fun with the Kids on Hinako in big games days. There were surfing lessons on the beaches of Afulu and Sirombu for the local kids and volleyball games with the locals. There were plenty of awesome, uncrowded waves for the guests, big fish caught and great stories told around the table. If you would like to join us on a Holidays with Purpose trip next year, contact Richard Wallace email@example.com and make sure you do it soon so you don’t miss out on our early bird discounts!
Coconut Kids Club
The establishment of the Kids Club on Asu has been one of the most exciting parts of our programme this year. It is so wonderful to see the 25 children of some of the poorest families in this island group, get their first opportunity to an education. They are loving learning and almost all of them are reading and writing basic sentences now. We have trained two local teachers to continue on after we leave and next year we hope to see the building completed. For any of you who would like to donate to this project we will be needing furniture, audio visual equipment, teaching aids, books, stationary and good quality toys as well as funds!
Coconut Kids Club on Hinako has been doing fantastically this year, we have consistently high attendance rates from the children, and considering it is non compulsory education, that means it must be fun! This year we implemented the new curriculum which covers identity; community; health and hygiene issues; the environment and taking care of it and many more exciting and practical topics. The games days have been a big hit with up to 100 children at each day, lots of noise and laughs. They have even learnt how to play cricket this year…thanks to our Australian guests.
The Coconut Oil Factory continues to produce as demand requires. Richard in Australia is finding an ever expanding market. We have had a big order from Lush in the UK this year, and they are thrilled with the product so look out for coconut oil products in Lush stores in the future! We also have a wonderful new range of body products that we have been trialing this year on the boat, with very positive feedback.
Our team have been busy going through the rather complicated process of preparing for organic certification. This has included mapping each coconut farmer’s property and having them sign contracts promising that they will not use pesticides, this has proved to be quite a challenge as the farmers have never had to deal with this type of thing before and are often fearful of new ideas. They have been told in the past never to sign anything! We have managed to convince 70 farmers that we are not going to steal their land.
We are still looking for distributors in the US and in Europe so if you are interested or know of anyone who might be please contact us! If you have any enquiries about Sococo please contact Richard firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fibre Glass canoe project has been steadily plodding along this year. There was a major set back when the workshop tent caught on fire, destroying one of the molds, but we are back on track now and the canoes continue to be built despite all odds. The list of those needing and wanting canoes is overwhelming at times, but the stories we hear back from the fishermen who receive them are so encouraging that it keeps us motivated. The difference a safe, strong canoe makes is so amazing, it basically takes a poor family and gives them a significant economic chance in life. We have always said we believe in hand-ups not hand-outs and this is exactly what this project achieves.
If you or your club, school or church would like to sponsor a canoe please send us an email and we will let you know how!
We finally managed to tackle the bureaucratic monster of UNICEF, with a lot of help from the UNICEF Nias office, and are now well under way with 16 out of 30 pumps completed. We are using a new model of pumps called Canzee pumps, which are an amazingly simple design, they are non corrosive and self priming, made from polypipe and stainless steal, both easy to use and to maintain. We are extremely grateful to Richard Cansdale and ……for the donation of the pumps to this project.
With the help of Holidays with Purpose guests held gardening demonstrations in three villages, teaching the locals about organic gardening, composting and pest control. The soil here is extremely alkaline so not many people have had success growing vegetables in the past. Using the new simple techniques, they are now harvesting corn, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, greens and tomatoes from their own gardens. As each family who starts a garden begins to see the fruit of their labour, the neighbours get inspired and start their own gardens too….sometimes “keeping up with the Jones’” can be a good thing!
For this project we are looking for a good source of tropically adapted non hybrid seeds. Please pass on any information you might have.
So now we come to the end of our time here for this year. Soon I will go around and say goodbye to each family. This is always hard as people tell me their stories and ask for our help in so many ways and I have to say, “We will try, and do what we can” but we can’t do anything without your help, so I hope and pray that you will be inspired to assist us in helping this small community to come out of poverty. On a world scale it is not a huge thing but in the lives of the individuals it is everything.
FIRE! On Indo Jiwa
I heard running and shouting outside my cabin door. Nothing usually happens in too much of a hurry on the Indo Jiwa, so I was instantly aware that something out of the ordinary was going on. I stepped outside and saw the smoke, big black plumes of it! “Get on deck, now!” I shouted to the kids. We rushed up the stairs past crew who were on their way down with fire extinguishers. As we reached the top of the stairs someone opened up the big glass hatch that is in the centre of the deck, a huge cloud of smoke billowed out. “Into the dingy!” I called again and the kids quickly scuttled down the ladder. As we sped to shore we prayed “Please God, don’t let Indo Jiwa go down!”
As we watched and prayed from the safety of the shore a thousand thoughts flew through my brain.
For the past two years the Jiwa had been our home, the vessel that had brought assistance and hope to so many people on Nias and surrounding islands and the source of funding for the LEAP community development projects. It looked as though it was all over. Smoke was now pouring out of the front hatch as well and there were crew members on deck setting off flares trying to get the attention of other boats to come and assist. Eventually an enormous car ferry that was moored on the dock came alongside and soaked the deck with it’s big fire hoses. The crew, guided by our quick thinking volunteer Raymond, worked bravely and tireless to put out the blaze. The fire engine arrived with Channa on board, but they had forgotten to bring the firemen!
Soon the fire was under control and the Jiwa saved!
There was quite some damage with one cabin needing to be totally rebuilt and another one badly smoke damaged. Not to mention the mess from water, fire extinguishers and smoke. The clean up effort lasted four long days before we were able to salvage the rest of the charter that had been planned to start that day.
Our understanding guests, after waiting a day in Medan, went overland to Asu, where they awaited our arrival.
Surfer’s Bible Film
Just two days before the fire broke out we completed an amazing trip with a team of professional surfer’s and photographers who came to shoot a short film to be included in the second edition of the Surfer’s Bible. The Team Included some world renowned surfers : Bethany Hamilton; Glyndon Ringrose; Kahana Kalama; Shannon and Shayne McIntyre; Kirk Bayer; Brad Whittaker; and Brendon Newton. Although the swell report was rather dismal, good waves were found all trip, and the surfing was outstanding. We did a couple of surf schools in Afulu and Sirombu, teaching local children, many who had never ridden a surfboard before and were thrilled to be able to stand up almost immediately. We would like to thank World Surf Industries for supporting the project with a donation of 12 soft top learner boards. Surf schools can now become a regular part of Holidays with Purpose trips. The team hosted a games day on Hinako and cemented around the base of two of the water pumps installed last year, to provide a more convenient platform for the women to wash their clothes on. The trip culminated with an expression session with local surfers and a beach concert at Sorake Beach.
The second Coconut Kid’s Club on Asu is going well with all of our 20 students progressing remarkably. For most of these children, this is their first opportunity for formal education. They are loving the fun filled lessons that include song, craft and games as well as the fundamentals of reading, writing and maths and science. LEAP is currently in the process of formalizing a contract with Patrick for the use of his land and bungalows on Asu, this property will also be the site of the new school building to begin construction soon!
To donate to this project please see our donations page on the website www.leapin.org or email directly email@example.com
Next year we are planning to open up the Asu land camp to run land based Holidays with Purpose programmes. A more stable option for land lubbers! We will be offering discounted packages with special rates for youth groups or church groups. As with the boat, this will provide the much needed income to keep the rest of the LEAP projects running.
A growing fleet of colourful canoes.
Our fiberglass canoe project continues to grow and develop into a self sustaining local business, providing a much needed alternative to the heavy, labour intensive wooden canoes. Thanks to Steve Mahnken who has helped to support the project.
UNICEF sponsored water pump project.
The second phase of our water installation project with Unicef is finally underway, the first of a total 42 canzee pumps will be installed in the primary schools and medical clinic followed by central locations in 12 villages.
06 March, 2006
It has been a while since I found the time to write an update. It has been a busy few months with our team once again being in different parts of the country. Channa, Richard and Johanna are all back in Nias at the present continuing on the good work. I (Ruby) and the kids are in Bali overseeing oil production, marketing and generally tying up the loose ends.
I hadn’t had much news from the islands until recently when thanks the Surfaid International a satellite internet connection was installed. It is amazing to chat online with Channa, sitting in his little tin shack which is the Leap office. It all sounds exciting, frustrating and fulfilling. The coconut oil factory is well underway, there were some difficulties in bringing the timber out from Sibolga, which resulted in an entire boat load being unloaded again and stored until a later date. The factory will have tin walls to begin with.
The canoe project has been continuing on and there is an ever growing little fleet of colourful canoes moored in the bay.
Those who have received canoes are continuing to do well financially and are continually grateful for the opportunity to resurrect their lives.
The canoe project in Lagundri is poised and ready to begin production of canoes with a facility almost complete and Uni finishing up his training on Hinako.
The Children’s club is flourishing. A large tent has been donated by UNICEF and has been erected on the Leap centre site. Natalie Correlle, from New Zealand has joined the team for the next couple of months. Natalie has spent many years working with children in YMCA camps in the US. We are excited to welcome her to the programme. A preschool group has begun in the mornings with about 20 children in attendance.
The Surfaid sponsored well and jetty project is underway with a bore expert from the mainland of Sumatera joining the team for this programme. The situation with water remains dire with more and more homes experiencing water shortages. There is a concern that the water table is too deep as in many places the team is drilling they have hit nothing but rock. Four community wells have been completed, taking twice as long as expected, but to the great joy of the villagers.
Back in Bali I am busy working on the bottling and labeling for the coconut oil. Hopefully you will be seeing a range of the best quality virgin coconut oil, coconut oil soaps and possibly spa products on our website and at a store near you soon!
Please continue to support us in any way that you can, we are in constant need of finances for the projects, for as they grow so do the expenses! Please pass on the word about the projects, oil, and holidays with purpose.
We also love to hear feedback from you so please feel free to drop a line and let us know what is happening in your part of the world.
For all of the LEAP team.
What an incredible year 2005 has been! Challenges and support have both come from unexpected places. It may have taken us longer than we had intended to refit the boat and leave Bali for Nias but once we made it up there, we made up for lost time. As we are back in Bali doing some admin work and preparing for Christmas we have had chance to review the year. We have so much to be thankful for. LEAP would like to thank you for being part of our journey this year and to wish you and your family a special and blessed Christmas.
The LEAP team was reunited mid November as Channa, Ruby and the kids came back from a break in Lake Toba and Medan and Richard and Johanna came back from two weeks of fundraising in Hong Kong. LEAP would like to thank all the people in Hong Kong who gave so generously, the money you gave came at a critical time in our project and enabled us to do so much!!
Together with Jesse and Hannah Pesu, great friends and LEAP volunteers, we headed to Gunningsitoli where the boat was loaded with five tonnes of goods from UNICEF. We took midwifery packs, hygiene packs, blackboards, tarpolines and 300 teddy bears out to Hinako, coutesy of UNICEF who also sent three of their staff out to have a look at what we are doing on the Island.
We would like to extend a special thank you to UNICEF for their support on that trip and all the goods they donated. It enabled us to keep doing as much as we can for the people of this island.
Arriving back on Hinako, we were reunited with Paul Marshall, our first New Zealand volunteer, who had stayed behind to work on the building of the Coconut Factory. After three weeks as the only westerner on the island, Paul was very happy to be back on the boat and we were just as happy to see him again and hear of his adventures.
Paul had put in a massive effort on the Coconut Site while we were gone – thank you Paul!!
No sooner had our visit with UNICEF ended before we had SURFAID onboard for a few days. During this visit Surfaid agreed to sponsor jetties and wells for the Hianko Islands. This was another fantasic boost and encouragement to our work and we thank Surfaid for all their help.
The next few weeks continued to be just as action-packed!! Jesse, a physiotherapist found himself in huge demand as a doctor! This was a challenge he wasn’t always sure he was up for, but the locals loved him and his skills were put to good use when LEAP was needed to conduct a rescue mission for a Coconut Picker who fell out of a tree smashing his pelvis and breaking several ribs.
The Coconut Kid’s Club has continued to gather momentum and numbers, we have almost 200 children now. It has been a joy to see this project grow and expand! Hannah gave wonderful teeth brushing demonstrations and theatrical performance that we are sure none of the children will ever forget!!
LEAP had a visit from Petra - an Indonesian Youth Group. Petra came out for a day and night to help run sporting and motivational events for the local youth. The response from this time was really encouraging and LEAP sends our thanks and love to Petra for their time and effort. We look forward to working together next year.
Heading back from Hinako to Guningsitoli, LEAP faced the sad task of saying goodbye to some of our volunteers. Jesse returned to his work in Australia – thank you “Doctor Jess” for all your work in the clinic and for assisting Paul in his building. Thanks for the fun and the guitar playing. And thank you Paul for your energy, time and wonderful company over two months of building and progression. We all wish you well in 2006 and look forward to hearing all your adventures.
At this time of writing, LEAP has several proposals in to various groups awaiting approval. Funding is still needed for many of our projects. 2005 has been an incredible year and we could not have done it alone. Our heartfelt thanks, and the thanks of the people from Hinako go out to all who have supported us this year. Please continue to support us in 2006 as we continue to impact lives and empower lasting change to an area that needs hope.
Please have a look at www.holidayswithpurpose.com and pass it on to all your friends!
Blessings from Johanna and all of the LEAP team.
I am once again seated in front of the computer here in Bali, where I seem to have spent the better part of the past six months. It is with renewed vigor that I now write; after spending the past month on board the “Indo Jiwa” in Nias, doing what we intended to do here all along. We had an amazing time in Nias. It was challenging to see the people there rebuilding their lives out of the rubble of the earthquake with a smile and a positive attitude. I may have mentioned previously that we have changed our plans slightly to work on Hinako Island off the coast of Sirombu in West Nias. We had initially intended to base ourselves in Sirombu but decided unanimously that Hinako was in greater need. Due to its isolation and difficulties of beach access and landings since the earthquake, hardly any aid has reached these islands.
The first “Holidays with Purpose” charter was fantastic and we were all sad to say goodbye to each other. We all felt as if the group had become so much a part of the “purpose” that we could not let them go home.
After saying goodbye to our guests in Sibolga, Richard and Johanna Wallace and I headed back to Nias with the crew. We spent a couple of days in Guningsitoli the capital of Nias where we attended the Building Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (BRR) meeting. We were well received by their leader who was so happy to hear that some aid was finally getting out to the Hinako islands. We also met with Surfaid and Oxfam to discuss livelihoods programmes with them. Here we met Dr Derek Allen from International Christian Mission (ICM) and arranged with him to take his medical team out to Hinako with us on the boat.
Back in Hinako ICM conducted a free medical clinic that saw the majority of the island turn out in their Sunday best. We spent the next week on the island each day, laying the foundations for the projects to begin, solidifying relationships and making new ones and drinking many many cups of very sweet tea.
The Indo Jiwa crew with a bunch of local guys finally got the temporary jetty functioning. It was great to see boat pulling up alongside and everyone and their goods coming onshore without getting soaking wet.
Johanna, Aro and I had a fun afternoon with a bunch of children playing games in the schoolyard. We started with about 6 kids and ended up with 35! That was with no prior announcement.
Another day we distributed the stationary Richard and Jo had brought with them to the schools.
Our time seemed to pass by so quickly out there but when I look at what we did in that time it really is amazing. I was sad to leave but excited to be back in Bali and connect with our friends here and continue on with the coconut oil production and marketing.
Channa, Richard and Jo are all back in Australia now, raising awareness and hopefully some funds to keep it all happening.
We have so many great ideas for areas that can be developed, rebuilt and re-established. The people of Nias are so in need of our help and are so open to it. We cannot do it alone. We are willing to be out there on the field, implementing, overseeing and assisting projects, but we need your encouragement, ideas, expertise, energy and help raising the finances. Please join with us in this.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
For all the gang at LEAP
Our first Holidays with Purpose charter in Nias was an awesome trip! We couldn't have wished for a better group of guests to trial our programme on. They were a mixed group from Ulladulla Christian Surfers in NSW and Sun surf in South Africa. The guys and Belia (the one intrepid girl) were totally stoked with everything and made the trip a pleasure for us. There were good, clean uncrowded waves in Afulu, Asu and Bawa and a few crowded ones in Lagundri, the boys surfed nearly everyday..
In Sirombu we met up with Richard and Johanna Wallace from "Feel the Love" who are joining us in implementing the LEAP community development projects, it was exciting to talk with them and discover that we had so much common vision for the people and the place. Our welcome into Hinako was an emotional one, after having been away for nearly 6 years it was wonderful to see old friends and familiar faces. Though it was hard to see the difficulties that they are facing since the earthquake. People who had lived in big homes and run successful businesses, are now living in tents and working hard physically. One family lost a new born baby the day of the earthquake and the grandmother is looking older and is more frail as a result of stress. Many people are sleeping in makeshift shacks out of fear of their homes collapsing. The people are suffering with a smile, and everywhere we were greeted with big hugs, smiles and a few tears.
We were initially planning to set up our project in Sirombu on the mainland of Nias, but due to the rise in reef, accessibility to this area is extremely difficult. The market area of Sirombu has been almost completely deserted with only a few families remaining, goats have taken up residence in many of the partly destroyed houses, sparking comments of Sirombu becoming a "Goats town". We have now decided to focus our projects on the Hinako islands and
set up our base on the main island of Hinako itself. Here we will set up the coconut oil producing plant, the fibreglass canoe building workshop and begin the first community development projects.We brought with us the fibre glass canoes that Azman Hia has been making in Padang and two moulds for making subsequent ones. The canoe that Azman had made in 1999 was there to meet us, still going strong. We began the process of registering potential recipients for the fibreglass canoes. There were so many people wanting them, Azman commented "… they want the canoes more than gold." The first ones will be given to two fishermen who lost their canoes in the tsunami and have been pushing wheelbarrows as a job since. They couldn't believe their luck!
The HWP gang had a great day on Hinako, joining in with a local working bee helping to break down the damaged parts of the church. There were many proud blisters! The hard work was followed by a local feast, all twenty of us including crew seated on the floor eating Nias style curry, chilli chicken, smoked fish and rice.
Dr Sean Oberholzer from Son Surf in South Africa had brought with him 4 resuscitation kits for the local medical clinics. He showed us all how to use the equipment, as we will keep one set on the boat. The local "doctor" from Hinako came on board and was taught how to use the set that was donated to the clinic on Hinako. We will now try to raise the money for an oxygen bottle to go along with the equipment.
We had a great meeting with the village heads who welcomed us warmly and thanked us in advance for our projects, gave their blessing and promised their support. Our first project is going to be a temporary jetty for Hinako. The reef has risen 2-3 meters leaving the harbour high and dry and access to the shore extremely difficult. Boats can no longer pull up to the pier and have to anchor off and ferry people and goods onshore with small canoes. Waves crash onto the shore making the whole process arduous. It is especially difficult for the elderly and those with small children. We began to build a jetty with the group but ran out of time and resources so we will complete it next trip with the boat crew.
We were sad to say goodbye to our guests, we felt as if we had all just begun to see some action. Richard, Jo and I ( Ruby) will return with the Indo Jiwa to continue with the projects. Hopefully we will see you out here soon to join us!
I look forward to hearing back from you with your ideas comments.
Take care and God bless you all.
For all the LEAP team.