Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on December 16, 2007
Traveling to developing countries need not be a bittersweet affair; it is possible to get some R&R AND make a difference in the lives of others who are desperately in need.
Indonesia is a country close to my heart — it’s a place I’ve been fortunate enough to visit on several occasions. The thing that strikes you about the country, apart from its inherent natural beauty, is the people. You’re blown away by their kindness and generosity of spirit. Sadly, despite their winning smiles, many are not able to afford basic human necessities like medicine, education or even fresh water.
So, while I applaud efforts towards eco-tourism, when it comes to developing countries, ecological and socially responsible tourism are the order of the day.
Nihiwatu resort on Sumba island in the east of the Indonesian archipelago fits this bill. It’s set on 400-odd acres of tropical forest, rice terraces and grasslands wrapped around a two-mile beach. Seven luxury bungalows and three villas, all hand built by Indonesian craftsmen, are hidden away amongst the luscious landscape. There’s the usual services expected at such a luxurious resort — spas, restaurants, yoga classes — as well as horseback rides, trekking, fishing, surfing and diving.
However, the interesting part is what Nihiwatu owner Claude Graves has managed to achieve via his non-profit org, the Sumba Foundation. In a period of five years, it has raised $1.4 million — more than a third of which was donated by Nihiwatu patrons.
The results have been impressive to say the least, and include: “lowering the malaria rate in children under five from 62% to 10% by distributing mosquito netting; saving 34 children who would likely have died without the medication provided by the foundation; performing structural repairs and distributing supplies and uniforms to seven nearby schools; and constructing 13 wells that supply potable water for 5,200 Sumbanese.
And if that’s not enough of an endorsement, Nihiwatu resort is featured in Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Green List of the top twelve eco-destinations that make this planet worth exploring.
For more information on Nihiwatu resort or to make a reservation, click here.