“What we do in remote areas is so important. Indonesia is a big country, with a big archipelago, many areas are so remote and the government services do not reach them. We go where other organisations won’t go. We go where the road stops.”  Dinnia Joedadibrata joined the SurfAid family as an Area Manager in 2017, overseeing programs in the Western region of Indonesia on the islands of Nias and the Mentawai. As a skilled worker and a quick learner, she eventually took on the eastern program in Sumba.

A natural creative who loves to draw, Dinnia initially focused on a career in Architecture. After graduation, Indonesia was facing a financial crisis and many building projects were on hold. This unexpectedly landed Dinnia with an opportunity to get involved in the humanitarian and development sector. A new passion was formed and she built an impressive background working with international NGO’s and their local partners. As an Indonesian national, she was the perfect fit to help grow our programs on the ground. She was especially eager to join the SurfAid team, and was drawn to the opportunity to resume managing the direct implementation of programs in the field.

Quick to make an impact, in late 2018 Dinnia was promoted to Country Director and took on the full responsibility of leading our Indonesian team. Supported by a talented and hardworking group of managers, her time is focused on ensuring our programs run smoothly. A typical day involves supporting our program delivery staff, developing new systems at our Medan headquarters, and overseeing government relationships along with finance and human resource management. Out of the office, she is a keen baker, karaoke enthusiast and dreams of joining a National Geographic mission to Antarctica. 

In reflecting on three years in the field, she’s proud to see the team’s hard work pay off. “I recently returned to Sumba and was impressed to see the community maintaining the water facility we built together in 2018. It really shows our approach to sustainable development works. When you collaborate with the locals and ensure their ownership of the project the results are long-lasting,” she says.  

In Nias, our village health volunteers are now able to run their own monthly mother and baby clinics independently. Similarly, the village health volunteers recently worked together to start their own small business. The profit is being used to hold cooking classes for pregnant mothers and young children in the village. Other wins include when a village declares they are Open Defecation Free (ODF). This was a key result of our SIMBO program in Bima where our community members had a low understanding of health issues. Diarrhoea is a leading cause of malnutrition in children under 5 in developing countries. Educating our families on sanitation prompted the community to take steps to be ODF, resulting in diarrhoea and malnutrition rates dropping to less than 1%!

Dinnia is most impressed with the SurfAid team and the patience and required when working in the field of community development. “ A lot of our work is rooted in long term behavior change and you don’t see an immediate result. Our staff carry on and show such dedication even in these challenging conditions,” she says.  

Dinnia is proud of the role models the SurfAid team are within their own community, “Many of our staff are locals to the areas we work in. They will be there for the long term, long after our program work is complete and SurfAid continues on to help other communities in need. I know our team will continue to inspire healthy decision making long into the future,” she says. 

For 20 years SurfAid has worked to ensure we Never Forget The Locals and this is something Dinnia recognizes, “the surfing community really cares about the local people in the places they surf.” Our SurfAid tribe and leaders like Dinnia are making a true and lasting impact every day.