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Surf Aid Indonesia Case Analysis

by Suleman

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Organizational Values and Culture
  • Management and Marketing of the Organization
  • Conclusion

Executive Summary

Surf Aid, a non-profit organization works for humanitarian activities with the main aim to strengthen the culture of the coastal community of Indonesia. They also earned attention for their special work with the residents of Mentawai, where they have enabled them to maintain their identity and customs amid the material assistance they have obtained and the efforts made to bring about behavioural reform rather than cultural change. The organisation markets itself with the aid of its human beliefs, which it shows through its operations. The provision of curriculum, training and funding has allowed the organisation to achieve sufficient reputation, apart from the success of Jenkins’ corporate strategies among donors. It indicates a mix of cautious strategic preparation and social support implementation at the same time.


Surf Aid is a “nonprofit humanitarian organization founded by Dr. Dave Jenkins, whose objective was to improve the health; well being and self reliance of people living in isolated communities connected to the rest of the world through surfing” (Surf Aid International, n.d.). The forte of the company is to work on the prevention of diseases, with the help of educational programs and health promotion programs which aims to change the poor health conditions and minimizes the risk from natural disasters (Surf Aid International, n.d.) Surf Aid essentially devotes resources to the remote and exclusive chains of the island on the coastal parts of Indonesia where the local residents are deprived from the qualities of life. The area was plagued with diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and infant diarrhea. The approximate infant mortality rate of the region is “one in ten” for up to five years’ old children. Both adults and children in the area have suffered from deprivation and from natural hazards such as tsunamis and earthquakes, a grim fact confronted by the inhabitants of those countries. (Annual Study, 2006-2007, p. 6) The purpose of the organisation is to motivate the population so that they can help develop local capacity to ensure sustained health change. The educational initiative launched by the association to raise consciousness among the citizens of the community engaged in educating the community in the fields of nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, safe and stable habitats and disease prevention, including the distribution of mosquito nets among the people of the community. The goal of the organisation is to enhance the wellbeing and well-being of citizens through means of an integrated approach to cost-effectiveness and high-impact approaches without encroaching on their community, without making any attempt to urbanise them. The work of the organisation was to bring about a shift in the actions of the community that was essential to have a healthier lifestyle, but not to change the ethos of the community as a whole. The initiative of the association has culminated in measurable progress of wellbeing and a reduction in health disparities (Roxburg, n.d.). The organisation focused on the recovery of the population from diseases without working on the urbanisation of the city. It reflected the culture of the islander in a way.

Surf Aid Indonesia Case Analysis

Organizational Values and Culture

Surf Aid advocates the organizational values of accountability to others, transparency of the organization and partnership. The organization goes by the principle and values of respecting colleagues, communities and social justice. The organization advocates health and wellness for all and makes an effort in creating collaborative relationships with other stakeholder groups wherever it’s possible to maintain a change in its performance and growth if necessary. (Annual report, 2006-2007, p. 6) The organization is based on the behavioral culture of humanitarian and social service. The activity of the organization personifies the Universal Human Values like empathy, sympathy and compassion, individual respect for the community, equality and social justice for all, sustainability of economic, environmental and social factors which are expressed through local and global citizens. The main focus of the organization is to work in a way that would change the way of thinking of the people residing in the island and have an impact on them. When Dr. Dave Jenkins, the founder of Surf Aid went to the village of Mentawai, he observed the village was cursed with unawareness- the residents thought that malaria was caused by the drinking of the sweet milk of coconut- one of the most nutritious foods at their disposal and not by mosquito biting. His mission was simple, he wanted a behavioral change. The organization mainly focuses on the principle of behavioral change. (Pawle, n.d.p.4), but that had to be done by the way they understood. While living there at the village the organization soon realized that by using song and drama they could facilitate behavioral change among the people of the community. Hence within the nine months more than 90 per cent of the villagers started sleeping under mosquito net. (Surf aid international Celebrates 10 years of Humanitarian Work, 2010) The programs developed by Surf Aid was focused on the incorporation of education among the people, initially they organized those dramas and musicals for educating and making the masses aware but gradually they delegated responsibilities to the locals there. The key phrase of working of the organization is “hand up”, not “hand out”. The very notion of behavior change was something which was not warmly welcomed by the natives of the land but the awareness programs taken up by the organization were pricking up their consciousness and they started accepting the fact that there is a need for a change and the local resident who accepted the need for change became the ambassador for the change and spread the message themselves. The process was kind of induction, it was started up by the organization and soon the community was working for the betterment of themselves. The way of working of the organization made it reap successful results. . The Indonesian population is predominantly Muslim, whereas the islander of Mentawai Island shows a blend of religious blend of Christianity, Islam and an ancient tribal animist belief system called Jarayak. The organization operates there independent of any religious or political association. The organization respects the diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion and political affiliation of the community. (Surf aid international FAQs, n.d.) The organization worked on the behavioral changes without encroaching upon the tradition, ethnicity and culture of the community and without bringing in the burden of urbanization in them. (Pawle, n.d., p.4)

Management and Marketing of the Organization

Jerkin, the founder of the Surf Aid had a formulaic and corporate approach to work. The model used for the humanitarian work in the island of Indonesia were replicable and based on measurable results which can be reported back to the benefactors. The founder of the organization have been able to attract a lot of attention which made surf companies like Quiksilver and Billabong fund some specific programs of the organizations as they became aware of the dire condition of the place. Jenkins approach of cost effectiveness and accountability impressed donors and one of the biggest donors of the organization was an Australian businessman. The working pattern of the organization under the leadership of Jenkins drew the attention of Dr. Kevin Starr, a physician from the Rainer Fellows Organization which made the organization receive the fellowship and thereby raised the company’s name and made it on an equal status with world’s some of the most innovative humanitarians. This all proved to be an advantage for the company which was awarded the annual Humanitarian award by the World Associations of Non government Organizations in Toronto in Canada.  (Pawle, n.d., p.5)

Initially Dr. Jerkins started off with the malaria program which aimed at reducing the prevalence and occurrence of the disease through education and guidance (Roxburgh, n.d.).  The work was focused on the Mentawai islands from 2001 but the works also spread to the far north of Aceh’s Simeule Island and the Nias Island. The program has been able to spread itself to nearly 300 villages in some of the remotest part of the world and the organization have been able to distribute more than 60,000 insecticides treated mosquito nets. The program aimed at partnering the Mentawai Health Department for developing a surveillance and response system by supporting the health posts which were organized. The health posts which were organized needed the assistance from the health department to train and use of rapid diagnostic testing and Artesenuate Combined Therapy (ACT) for identifying and treating malaria. The organization has been also operating in close association with Mentawai Health Department officials, health care contributors and the local non-government organizations to apply this program for restraining malaria in the island (Ponting, 2001). This endeavor taken by the organization provided the members of the community with simple and effective means of preventing malaria. This program also ensured an advanced technology of detecting and treating malaria.  The program undertaken by the organization proved to be beneficial as it reduced the rate of deaths caused due to malaria. In the year 2006, the Malaria Control Program developed into Malaria Free Mentawai Program and it was financed by latest Zealand Assist Initiative to extend the main malaria prevention activities to another 206 villages that is to 65,000 people in the Mentawai Island (Surf Aid International, n.d.).

The Organization also worked to reduce the high infant mortality rate by delivering education, training and support which would ensure sustainable behavior change. It worked through the Surf Aids’ Community Based Health Program (CBHP) which functions in Nias and Mentawai Islands. The isolated location of the Mentawai Island, which was situated 150 km to the west of Sumatra, Indonesia, was home to 74,000 people. The isolation of the island had led to some health issue there which could not be addressed with the limited capacity of the Mentawai Health Department. The programme was established to implement significant and permanent changes in the way they handles health issues. The health situation of the area was critical as the child mortality rate was 93 per 1000 live births for children up to 5 years old. The infant mortality rate of the area was as high as 49 per 1000 live births up to the age of one year. The   area was plagued by malnourishment in children and anemia in pregnant women. The Mentawai Core Health program’s first phase of work was health connected action which targeted 23 communities across the island. The program involved local community members as volunteers, who helped in the supporting the implementation and adoption of new health practices by the community members. The program aimed at improving the health conditions of the community members through behavioral modification by implementing a series of activities (Surf Aid International, n.d.).

The organization took up the work of improving water supply and sanitation in the Island of Nias through its Clean Water Program by repairing wells destroyed by the 2005 earthquake and the construction of modern reservoirs, municipal taps, rainwater networks and pipes.  The program aimed at enhancing the accessibility to water. The organization always involved the community member in their programs. The involvement of the group in the process has helped to eliminate open defecation in the villages. The community-based program of Surf Aid implemented in Nias focused on building the “direct relationship between the community health, hygiene, local sanitation and the availability of clean water supply” (Surf Aid International, n.d.). This resulted in the initiation of the Watsan Program and the initial phase of the program was funded by UNICEF and NZAID. The community led Total Sanitation approach taken up by the organization aimed at encouraging the society must take responsibility for their own sanitation activities. The way of working of the organization which includes the community member as well and working acting in a manner that does not mess with the traditional culture and ethnicity of the community makes the work all the more easier for the organization. The natives of the land do not feel endangered and as a result the work became successful in 26 villages in Sirombu and Teluk Dalam sub districts. The work could also be spread to another 8 villages in 2009 and 2010 and this time the program was funded by the Omidyar fund. (Surf Aid International, n.d.)

Jenkins’ focus is to take the work across Indonesia, where the regions are characterized by the preventable diseases, especially those areas like Sumbawa, east of Bali which is very close to the world class surf. (Pawle, n.d., p.5) Apart from the several health and emergency programs taken up by the organization, it also operates another program, the Schools program through its website. This program I based on developing global citizens by the usage of humanitarian challenges and achievements of the company as an educational example for action. The program aims at educating people about the condition of people in the Mentawi Island region, thereby developing a sense of social responsibility. An exciting learning opportunity is provided by the company and makes one believe in the fact that as an individual one can make a difference. (Shannon and Brown, 2009, p.3) The School program that has been launched by the organization is an online program which provides with free educational resources. This curriculum is open to educators and learners from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe (Surf Aid International, n.d.) This program gives the students exposure to social awareness and encourages them to become responsible and better citizens. By launching this program the company has been able to reach out globally (Surf Aid International, n.d.)

The dynamic event, Wave of Compassion, launched by Surf Aid International has proved to be beneficial for the company. The event is mainly the invention of Anthony Marcotti, who along with Andrew Griffiths, Steve Barilotti, Jordan and Aii Heuer, Un, Gary Sirota, Justin Wallace developed the exclusive idea as an initiative to raise fund to support the people of Mentawai. The two grand prize winner of this will win an all expense paid boat. The trip also includes an upriver visit to the Mentawai people to peep into their culture and dwellings (Cassrels, 2011). This also enables the winners to have a look on the traditional Nias Culture celebration and a visit with Dr. Dave Jenkins which enable the visitors witness and participate in surf Aid’s endeavor to fight malaria and other dieses in the island. This process helps in getting more volunteers and also raising funds as the winners have a chance of having an intimate look of the areas which has been affected by the natural disasters like earthquake and tsunami. (Waves of compassion, 2006) The company’s charitable move to work and the capability to work in emergencies has been the main driving forces in establishing itself it as one of the best humanitarian organization in the world. The company was never established as the one which works on emergency relief providers, but boxing Day Tsunami-December 2004, Nias Earthquake-March 2005, Mentawai Earthquake-September 2007, Padang Earthquake-September 2009 the company act as an emergency response organization (Surf Aid International, n.d.)


To a surfer the Mentawai Island meant the island of good fortune but when Dr. Dave Jenkins went there it seemed to him that good fortune has deserted the island as the place was plagued with disease like malaria. It was the deplorable condition of the islander that made him think of a way to help them eradicate the ills of the island. He founded the humanitarian organization Surf Aid with an aim to bring in the profitable industry of surf and the surfer themselves to give something in return to the people of the island to help them come out of the poverty and other ills of the society including the health hazards. The humanitarian approach of work added by the cost effective nature of the work attracted the funds and sponsorers of the programs undertaken by the company. The uniqueness of the organization lied in the very fact that it did not encroach upon the traditions and ethnicity of the tribe living in the islands, on the contrary they made them remain the way they are and inculcated some healthy habit among them which would benefit them. The programs launched by them aimed in long term benefits of the tribe so they included the community member in their works; especially women who they felt worked as the major engines for bringing in changes in the society. The organization has an appealing mix of aid and adventure, where on the one hand the organization provides aid to the malaria and disease driven islands, on the other hand it provides entertainment to the surfers and thereby pull in funds and volunteer for the organization.

  • Annual Report (2006/2007), Surf Aid International, Available at: surfaidinternaitonal.org (accessed on May 5, 2011)
  • Cassrels, D. (2011) Care Surfs in to give islanders a fresh shot at health, Available at: http://www.samoaobserver.ws/index.php?view=article&id=13080%3Acare-surfs&option=com_content&Itemid=96 (accessed on May 5, 2011)
  • Pawle, F. (n.d.), Turning the tide, Philanthrophy, available at : https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment?ui=2&ik=afcd7cedba&view=att&th=12fada84136a11b2&attid=0.3&disp=inline&realattid=file3&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P-wgHk5LYs-pbdt7KND0OpI&sadet=1304416103716&sads=upAvoH5r9yoUzAzmmrEnmzXAlLs&sadssc=1 (accessed on May 2, 2011)
  • Ponting, J. (2001), Managing the Mentawais, University of Technology, Sydney, available at: http://www.mentawai.org/jptm.htm (accessed on May 5, 2011)
  • Roxburgh, G. (n.d.), Dave Jenkins- Surfer, Healer, The listener, available at:   http://www.gusroxburgh.com/articles/dave_jenkins.html (accessed on May 4,2011)
  • Surf aid international FAQs (n.d.) available at http://schools.surfaidinternational.org/FAQ.htm (acessed on May 5, 2011)
  • Shannon, H. and M. Brown,  (2009) “From Surfboard Wax  to salient health inequity: School Programs to develop globally aware and active citizens”,  available at: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/27987/ (accessed on May 2, 2011)
  • Surf Aid International, (n.d.) SURFAIDINTERNATIONAL, available at: http://www.surfaidinternational.org/schoolsprogram (accessed on May 3, 2011)
  • Surf Aid international celebrates 10 Years of Humanitarian Work, (2010), J!-ENT, from: http://j-entonline.com/tag/surfaid-international/ (accessed on May 3, 2011)
  • Waves Of compassion, (2006), “WAVEOFCOMPASSION” available at :http://www.waveofcompassion.org/2006eventinformationcolor.html (accessed on May 4,2011)

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