A hero not just because he’s one of the world’s best surfers, but because he’s a compassionate and committed humanitarian. A SurfAid Ambassador for over 15 years, Tom Carroll was alongside SurfAid staff in the wreckage responding to the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.  Tom calls this one of his most extraordinary experiences of his life. TC returned to the Mentawai in 2008 with his then 13 year old daughter Mimi to celebrate the opening of a disaster preparedness centre. Natural disaster and giving back, like many big issues of our time, speaks to Tom’s profound sense of empathy, which has seen him volunteer at over a dozen SurfAid fundraisers. From in the water at SurfAid Cup competitions, in the kitchen at Surfing Chefs for SurfAid dinners, and on the dancefloor at SurfAid balls, Tom has helped raise over $1 million dollars for SurfAid’s programs bringing clean water and sanitation, basic healthcare, and improved nutrition to places where we all love to surf.

The USANA True Health Foundation partners with SurfAid to improve food security on the remote island of Nias


The archipelago of Nias is situated off the western coast of North Sumatra in Indonesia. Nias is a beautiful, wave rich island and  holiday destination, popular amongst surfers; however, despite this visiting wealth, Nias ranks amongst the poorest areas in Indonesia.  These wave rich islands are top tier destinations for surf tourists, but at the bottom tier for service provisions and poverty.  Step off the beach and into the small villages, and a different Nias emerges.  Seventeen percent of people live  below the  national poverty line – nearly double the national average; another 40% teeter dangerously close it. Poverty is one of the biggest contributors to food insecurity and malnutrition. Incomes are insufficient to meet basic household needs, including clean water and sanitation, basic healthcare and adequate nutrition.

Hiliduho  and  Gido  subdistricts  together  cover  more  than  a  quarter  of  Nias  district.  More than  50%  of  these hamlets  are  only  accessible  by  foot  or  motorbike. Average  duration  of  schooling  is  less  than  six  years.  Christianity  is  the  predominant  religion,  but melded  with  strong  traditional  beliefs.  Death  is  considered  preordained,  which contributes  to  low  health-seeking  behaviour.  Families  commonly  include  up  to  10 children. Women  carry  the  triple  burden  of  reproduction,  production,  and  community management  roles.  Nias  mothers  work  in  the  fields,  leaving  babies  at  home  with  older siblings.  23.6%  of  children  under  five  are  underweight.

Building resilience and improving food security is a national priority, however national policies and interventions often prove difficult to implement in the remote village contexts. Barriers to change include unique cultures and customs, isolation, difficulty accessing economic markets, and poor infrastructure.

Accessing these villages begins with a 4 wheel drive car down a dirt path and from there, a 2 hour hike or hair raising motorbike ride through the woods, across a river, and over a stream. During monsoon season this trek is made even more difficult, sometimes impossible.

SurfAid specialises in working in remote areas in Indonesia. There is a saying that the aid stops where the road stops, but that’s where SurfAid begins.

The USANA True Health Foundation mission is to ensure that impoverished children and families reach their fullest potential by providing food and nutrition globally. This is the first time the Foundation is supporting food security in Nias.