News | Features  

11.04.05 - Help Surfzone Relief: Tsunami-hit Sumatran villagers need fishing canoes to survive

If you have been following the efforts of Surfzone Relief to deliver aid to the remote tsunami-afflicted islands of Sumatra, Indonesia and have wondered if there was any way you could help -- the answer is yes, there is.  It's a bit unusual, but this is an invitation for you or your company to directly sponsor the delivery of a fishing canoe to right to a village which desperately needs it to begin feeding itself again.

Canoe Drop
The Surfzone Relief team deploys native fishing canoes from the deck of their aid ship off Simeulue Island, Sumatra, replacing those destroyed in the recent tsunami. The American surfer-led group has launched a "Sponsor a Canoe" program to fund their latest mission.

Since the first week of January, our American surfer-organized effort has focused on helping people in the remote villages of Simeulue and Nias to cope with the damage and suffering brought on by the December 26 earthquake and tsunami.  As you may have read in the news or seen on TV, SRO team members were the first responders to most of the west coast of Pulau Simeulue, the closest villages to the epicenter of that 9.0 earthquake.  Although brand-new to relief world, SRO's nimble style and never-give-up approach succeeded in quickly bringing over 70 tons of food, water and other desperately-needed supplies and provided medical services to 4000 isolated survivors. 
What you might not know is that the more recent 8.7 earthquake on March 28 heaped even more devastation directly on these very villages -- and subjected them to a new 12-foot tsunami (despite endless media reports to the contrary).  More lives were lost, and even more boats were destroyed, further crippling the islanders' hopes of reestablishing their fishing infrastructure.
Despite many large international aid "organizations" now rushing into the larger port cities of Gunung Sitoli and Sinabong, these villages on the west coasts of Nias and Simeulue ARE NOT receiving significant help as the roads and bridges are out as they can only be reached by sea.  Yesterday the United Nations Joint Logistics Centre finally issued a Situation Report noting the problem we've been dealing with for months...
     "As a consequence of the earthquake(s) the land at the coastline of the
     Hinaku islands west off Sirumbu at the West coast of Nias has reportedly
     risen by some two meters and hence it appears that the beaches there no
     longer exist.  This renders fishing difficult and 2,000 inhabitants are all
     reported to be in urgent need of food. Due to dense forestation of palm
     trees, even landing sites for helicopters appear difficult."
These are the places where our knowledge as surfers makes all the difference.  And so we go again.
SRO had been working toward our next "canoe-lift" of 50 Siberut-made dugouts for later this month, but with the latest disaster, the need is immediate.  Matt George has been in Padang, Sumatra for the last week preparing the Mikumba for the next voyage and arranging all the relief supplies and the local medical team.  His brother Sam will join him this weekend.  But this urgency has also greatly shortened up the time available to raise funds for the mission.  We need to come up with another $25,000 to ensure that the ship is packed to its fullest cargo capacity with food, water, canoes, tools, school supplies and other key items before it gets underway.
So here's how you can help us help them:
For a donation of $1000, you can sponsor the delivery of a two-man canoe (packed with nets and light fishing tackle) directly to the villagers who need it so badly.  As per SRO tradition, the bow of each canoe will be painted with the name or message of your choice, and you will receive a photo of your "vessel" in the hands of the fishermen who will use it.  And you will also receive a handsome miniature handcarved replica canoe for display in your home or office.  Even more importantly, you will know that your donation went directly to where it was needed, not diverted to aid agency salaries or "Administrative Overhead."
We know there are many organizations out there asking for money.  And many of you have already given.  But these people need help, and it appears that once again it is left to a small but persistent group of American surfers to get it done. 
We need you aboard.  Please sail with us.
Bill Sharp
Surfzone Relief Operations
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2701, Newport Beach, CA  92659
Office Address: 1441 Superior Avenue, Suite E, Newport Beach, CA  92663
Nonprofit Corporation Tax ID#: 20-2597808