BARRELS FOR CHANGE
DR DAVE ON SURF COMMUNITY AND THE BENEFITS OF GIVING BACK : KIRK OWERS
Kiwi doctor Dave Jenkins had no idea how dramatically his life – and many other lives – would change when he booked a surf charter to the Mentawai Islands in 1999. He just wanted to get shacked. But along with perfect barrels he found an impoverished local population dying in their scores by preventable diseases. "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?" he recalls. Fifteen years later that question has been decisively answered. SurfAid, the non-profit charity founded by Jenkins, has been instrumental in improving the health and life expectancy of the Mentawai people. Today it has around 60 fulltime staff and has expanded its life-sustaining work into Sumba, Sumbawa and Nias.
contacted Dr Dave to get his thoughts on SurfAid's legacy and its future. The surfing community now encompasses all walks of life and different perspectives abound. However we remain a tribe bound together by the shared experience of riding waves and our love of the ocean. Personally, I'm not surprised that our tribe has consistently rallied on multiple occasions to help our friends and hosts in the remote islands of Indonesia. The international reputation SurfAid has built as a professional and highly effective aid organisation is directly attributable to a combination of the support from the tribe, the passion and commitment of our volunteer fundraisers and board members and of course, our staff out there in the field. Without the surfing community it would not have happened. hand washing and breastfeeding are multi-generational. The investment our donors make today will have lasting impacts for generations to come. Yes... We are incredibly proud of the legacy of our Emergency Preparedness work completed in the Mentawai communities in coordination with the Mentawai government. They now have systems and training to respond more effectively to threats and all the villages we worked in have a preparedness plan and have practiced their plans. They know the warning signs of a tsunami, what to do and are ready to act.