PRACTICING GRATITUDE // THE SUMBA FOUNDATION

We all have so much to be grateful for in this beautiful life and it is so important to me to give back when we can.  When Jim and I visited Nihiwatu Resort on Sumba Island last Spring, we were so moved by how this hotel has seamlessly integrated with its surroundings not only aesthetically, but more importantly, by improving the lives of the Sumbanese people.  Our family went for a long hike exploring local villages, and I cannot even begin to explain the beauty of the people we met.  Like the people of Bali, the Sumbanese are radiating with positive energy and their faces are beaming with huge smiles and kind eyes.  Being the only resort on the island, the founders of Nihiwatu wanted to build a resort that was inclusive of the local tribes and their customs.  As a result, the hotel has hugely impacted the prosperity of the community, employing over 300 full time staff as well as about 150 daily workers, making it the largest employer on the island.  What’s more, the hotel launched The Sumba Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to alleviate poverty on Sumba Island.

 The Sumba Foundation was started by Nihiwatu’s Founder Claude Graves with U.S. businessman Sean Downs, who was so moved by the location, the people, and their needs after visiting in 2001.  Because of the close connection Nihiwatu has with the Sumbanese, the owners and staff have learned firsthand their urgent needs and aspirations.  It is from these firsthand accounts that The Sumba Foundation has effectively implemented programs to fight malaria eradication, provide clean water, and foster economic growth.  In addition, they support 16 primary schools by providing water, toilets, tables, chairs, supplies, and libraries, and free lunch.  To provide proper healthcare to the Sumbanese, they have built and staffed five clinics, benefitting over 20,000 people.  Outside of their own clinics, they support sixteen government midwife clinics as well as dental and vision facilities.  

 

 

 On our hike to a local village which took us away from the coast and into the hills, we got a chance to explore the nature of Sumba more deeply.  I stopped to observe the scene and was awestruck by its wild, yet simplistic beauty; golden light streaming through lush greenery against rolling hills; goats, horses, and other livestock grazing freely as barefoot children play and laugh in the fields, a soft breeze kissing my skin as I look out over expansive ocean views.  We were taken to a local village to learn more about the people and their artistic heritage.  These people are so full of love, they welcomed us into their home with open arms as we learned about their lives and their craft; the area is known for it’s exquisite double ikat textiles and basket weaving.  These people, like all humans, are so deserving of all the love, joy, and quality of life that we would wish upon our closest friends and family.  Although their lives are so removed from our own, they are just like us - with hopes and dreams, love, joy, and sadness, all those familiar emotions.  
 
 After this experience, I deeply understand why Sean and Claude felt so compelled to give back to this community.  I feel so passionately that together we can support The Sumba Foundation so that these lives, and this incredible culture, can flourish and continue to spread love and beauty.  
 The Sumba Foundation funds all of their projects directly through public donations, so for the next  week, we will be treating you to 15% off, while donating an additional 15% of sales to The Sumba Foundation.  Use the code SUMBA at checkout!  However, if you would like to make a direct donation, you can do so here.  Your support matters, and we are so grateful for even the tiniest contribution!
 

I am so inspired by the selflessness of the founders and staff of Nihiwatu; they are truly making an impact on so many lives on Sumba Island, and as a result, preserving the beauty and culture of this remarkable place.

 

 

Photography by Taryn Kent // www.tarynkent.com // @taryn_kent
 
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