In the late 80’s Claude and Petra Graves arrived on the island of Sumba, fell in love with it, and started making plans to build an eco-friendly resort. As a part of the plan the Graves’ started the Sumba Foundation; the foundation’s mission was to help improve the lives of the local residents. In 2012 Christopher Burch became a major investor in the resort’s expansion and thanks to his generosity a portion of Nihiwatu’s profits are funneled back into the Sumba Foundation. Over the years, the foundation has set up over 15 primary schools, built 48 water wells and 5 medical clinics, supplied 172 villages with clean water and reduced Malaria by 85% in affected villages. As a guest you’re given the opportunity to experience the foundation’s work first hand (a visit to the closest malaria clinic and tour of a local school are a must) and many guests become life-long supporters.
While on Sumba we took a day to visit the clinic and a nearby school. Not only does the clinic treat malaria, it also functions as the only medical facility in the area. People often walk for miles to be treated for everything from a cold to a broken limb. The clinic also provides eye exams and on the day we visited a young patient was there to pick up her new glasses. The local school serves all the children in the surrounding area. We arrived at lunch and were invited to help serve. The Foundation provides lunch several days a week and for most of the children it’s the only meal they get for the day. To say it was a humbling experience is an understatement.