The Sumba Foundation, a U.S.-based public charity dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to the people on the Indonesian island of Sumba, drew a sold-out crowd of more than 150 enthusiastic supporters and VIPs for its first East Coast fundraising benefit at the beautiful Stephan Weiss Studio in New York City.
Over the past 12 years, the Sumba Foundation has raised more than $4.9 million dollars for medical services, malaria eradication and training, general health, access to clean water, child malnourishment, education as well as income generation programs for the impoverished people of Sumba, Indonesia.
“The event was a total success and exceeded our expectations,” said Sean Downs, Sumba Foundation co-founder and president. “It was amazing to see the power of a group of like-minded volunteers gathering to help people in need in a far corner of the globe. The common element that brought many supporters together was our passion for surfing and our desire to leave the world a better place. We are thankful to everyone who attended, helped organize and donated items for the auction.”
The charitable fundraising event was held at Stephan Weiss Studio in the historic West Village. Fortunately, the forecasted rain did not show up, and we were able to enjoy the beautiful outdoor rooftop. Our hostess, Bettina Stelle, also provided the gorgeous décor within the studio. Isabella Boutros treated us to a moving account of her visits to Sumba and how they impacted her life.
Emcee for the event was television sports commentator and surfer Pat Parnell, host of FUEL TV’s daily series The Daily Habit. Parnell has traveled to Sumba several times, and has seen firsthand the work of the Sumba Foundation. He entertained the audience with his witty and insightful perspective. Energizing the crowd was C.K. Swett, a highly regarded, New York-based auctioneer whose career includes directing auctions at famed auction houses Christies and Phillips de Pury & Company.
The highlight of the evening was a short film by Aaron Krummel, Emmy award-winning director, photographer, producer and editor. Shot on location in Sumba during the summer of 2011, the film chronicled the challenges faced by Claude and Petra Graves following their arrival in Sumba in 1988 to develop the Nihiwatu Resort. Their efforts eventually led to the creation of the Sumba Foundation in 2001.
Krummel’s film vividly captured the faces of the impoverished Sumbanese people and how they have been helped by the Foundation. The film also featured the emotional and uplifting conclusion of the story of Riske, an 6-year-old boy profiled on his journey to have life-saving brain surgery in New Zealand arranged by Sumba Foundation during the 2011 fundraiser.
Located in the Indonesian Archipelago, Sumba is an island of 600,000 people. The Sumba Foundation is dedicated to helping the Sumbanese to improve their quality of life by providing many of the basic necessities western society takes for granted. This includes clean water, health services, malaria eradication and training, child malnourishment, education for their children, and employment opportunities.
The people of Sumba are extremely poor, and in desperate need of basic malaria diagnosis and treatment. Malaria is the leading killer of women and children on the island, which has the highest incidence of malaria outside of Africa. Baseline surveys have found 65 percent of children below the age of five years had malaria, and up to 45 percent of mothers have lost at least one child to malaria.
For more information and to donate, please visit www.sumbafoundation.org and click on the ‘Donate Now’ button, or contact Sean Downs at [email protected]
About The Sumba Foundation
The Sumba Foundation is a U.S.-based public, nongovernmental 501(c)(3) charity. The Foundation is dedicated to helping the indigenous people of Sumba by improving the quality of their lives through better health, education, clean water, malaria control and employment opportunities, a key component in achieving the long-term goal of lessening the oppressive impacts of poverty. Poverty means more than simply not having enough money; above all, it means not having the opportunity to make a better life for the future. The Sumba Foundation aims to be a force for positive change and to give the people much needed hope for a better future.