Field update from SurfAid CEO Andrew Judge
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 May, 2015 - SurfAid CEO Andrew Judge has just logged a stay in Nias as part of SurfAid's ongoing work in that area. Of importance this trip was getting a better water system to the Gido people. Just how does one go about doing that? It's more than just sweat. You can read Andrew's full experience below...
I’ve just finished an inspiring visit to one of our field programs in Nias and wanted to briefly share my experiences with you.
My first stop was Akhelawe, a cluster of villages in the area of Gido, in Nias. Gido is north and inland from the world famous break at Lagundri. We began our mother and child health programs late last year in Gido.
I often forget just how remote our villages are and the challenges that presents for our staff and the implementation of our program. At one point, the road was so steep and narrow, I was literally on my hands and knees getting up the track. As we neared the village, the village head himself and friends came and took us on the back of their small motorbikes.
The people of Akhelawe had heard about SurfAid’s program EHOWU in Hilliduho where we have been working in Nias for the past three years. Even though the villages are four hours apart and separated by winding and often very treacherous roads, the fame of Hilidudo’s community health volunteers and midwives for their work and the results they are achieving had reached Gido.
Gido people had also heard that SurfAid expects and encourages the local communities to be active participants, so that they 'own the program'. SurfAid staff has begun to engage the community in the first aspect of the program – access to clean water.
The communities were already proposing their own design modifications around access to the facilities and water drainage. SurfAid’s water engineer incorporated their suggestions into the design. The community came together and worked several 14 hour days to get two facilities ready for our visit.
I was impressed with their efforts. The water facilities are really fit for purpose and the local water community is already discussing strategies for long term maintenance.
Bringing clean water to a village for the first time is a very powerful thing. As we have seen from our experience and results in Hilliduho it means that diarrhea rates will go down and infections will decrease because people will wash their hands more often. Crops will thrive and ultimately, children will lead healthier and more productive lives. SurfAid villages in Hiliduho have seen fantastic results – the number of women dying annually in childbirth have gone from 8 to none in the past year. We hope to see the same improvement in Gido over the next three years. You -- SurfAid’s essential supporters -- are making all this happen.
On behalf of the community of Akhelawe, and all the communities SurfAid is proud to work alongside, thank you for your continuing support! You are making a difference and saving lives everyday.