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.