Words by Corinne Habel. Photo credits: Fabian Von Holzen, Gavin Hill, Corinne Habel and SurfAid staff.
SurfAid’s core mission is to save the lives of women and children in remote areas of Indonesia – areas connected to us by surfing. We specialize in working very isolated villages where the maternal and child mortality rate is extremely high. Many in theses communities suffer from preventable causes. Simple things like washing hands before delivering a baby, sleeping under a mosquito net, exclusive breastfeeding, and improving nutrition can have an enormous positive impact on the health of women and their families.
SurfAid was borne out of one surfer’s desire to make a difference. In the past fifteen years, in addition to building award winning health programs, we have helped communities re-build their lives after five major natural disasters – earthquakes and tsunamis in the area.
Our approach is to work with each individual community or village to effect long term behavior change. We believe, and our results bear this out, that working with communities to develop their own solutions is the most effective form of aid — a “hand up, not a hand out”. Our local staff provides advice, training and expertise, but it is up to the community to implement and embrace change. The exciting thing about this approach is these behavior changes like hand washing and breastfeeding are multi-generational. The investment our donors make today will have lasting impacts for generations to come.
Having started with very little money, we pride ourselves on a model of low cost solutions that yield high impact results. We are transparent, nimble, exceptional stewards of our donor’s money and offer a high return on a philanthropic investment.