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.
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.