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Surf the Mentawai and help a little along the way

I recently went to North Indonesia to the Mentawai Islands on a promo trip for Wave of the Day. Anyone who surfs knows about this wave rich region and most surfers will visit these islands at least once in their lifetime.

Wave of the Day encourages responsible travel. As salt-infused globetrotters, it is incredibly important to understand the potential impact we can have on the countries that we often visit. That is why it is so important for us to use this as a tool to ensure that help ensure Surf Travel becomes a courier for positive change. We have what we call our ‘Social Good’ program which supports not-for-profits such as Waves 4 Water and the Suku Mentawai Indigenous Education Foundation.

One of the items our donations go towards are water filters provided by ‘Waves 4 Water’.   These filters can provide clean, healthy, drinkable water for up to 100 people or, the equivalent of One Million Gallons.

These water filters can filter out bacteria such as E Coli, Typhoid, Amoebic Dysentery, Salmonella and many more water born disease. The idea is that they are really easy to use, small enough to throw in your board bag and it takes very little time to teach the locals how to use them. Literally, anyone can take one of these filters with them and help give something back while they travel.

I threw a bunch of filters in my board bag and off I went. The concept behind the water filters is to ‘Do what you love and help a little along the way’ they are small, lightweight and easy to implement – perfect for a surf trip.

I stayed at Playground Surf Resort and got chatting with Guilerme, the owner and 10 year expat of the region who introduced me to ‘Bapak Mang’ a local Mentawai Elder. When these guys built their surf resort they became good friends with a lot of the locals and they often help them out where they can. Water can be struggle in the islands; fuel is expensive, as are boats. Not to mention the water itself once you get to it. When I mentioned the water filters I was carrying, they were quick to help out.

Bapak and Gui introduced me to a local family where we sat down on the shore and ran them through how to set up these filters – demonstrating cleaning practices, basic maintenance and enjoying some clean filtered water.

The initial response is often confusion due to the language barrier and the nerves are definitely there as you explain how to use this strange looking contraption. However, as soon as you filter the water and show them the difference in visual quality there is a wonderful ‘Ahhh-Haaa Moment’, where they realise why you are there and what you are doing. There is no greater gift than giving to others and, when it’s a situation such as this, where the need for something simple is so great it really breeds a feeling of joy.

I demonstrated the benefit of the filter by drinking the water first and then sharing the glass of clean water with ‘Sandai’ and his family. I then encouraged Sandai to use the filter. This really engages the other locals, especially the young children and it’s no longer a strange looking bearded surfer covered in reef nicks and mosquito bites demonstrating, but a local whom they respect and look up to.

The second two filters were given to a man called Desi Mardian and his family from Pei-Pei Village and Bapaks neighbor on Pulau Nyang Nyang. In the Mentawai Islands there is a great ethic of sharing and helping each other within the local community. Giving these filters to the locals is great in itself but to know that true to their culture, they will then share what they have with others, really confirms the great intent with which we set out.

The water filters really are a joy to give away and so easy to carry/use. Waves 4 Water really have nailed their idea with such a fantastic piece of equipment and a great ethic behind what they do. We as a company are delighted to be able to support them and simply arriving with 3 filters, I personally was able to provide clean water for up to 1500 people in a single day’s work. That is something worthwhile to include in any surf trip if you ask me!

Before I go, I have to credit those who helped make this possible; Guilherme N.D.R, Bapak Mang, Melanie Koeman and Kain Sissons from (Waves 4 Water)

As a surf travel company who sell surf trips, in order to stay true to our beliefs, we must attempt to offset our footprint in any way we can. Our intent is to ensure great savings on surf travel and access to perfect waves. However if we can help educate and inspire our customers and surfers then that truly is why we started this business in the first place!

If you want to know more hop onto our ‘Social Good page’. Even better, shoot me a direct email and ask me how you can help, get involved, or how you can get started on your own fundraising project.