• Mel Koeman

Waves for Water

Updated: Feb 12

When my surf obsessed 9 year old discovered his surfing heroes were distributing water filters to remote villages nestled behind perfect tropical waves, something immediately clicked for him. These demi-gods were surfing perfect breaks in paradise, but before they left they gave a gift back to the communities, the gift of clean drinking water. Promptly, he set up a fundraiser platform called Surf To School Day (http://wintervincent.com/stuff-i-do) which was embraced by many Northern Beaches schools for whom wearing boardies to school was a good excuse for a party in the name of charity. Surf To School Day has raised over $40,000 from more than 30 schools, providing clean water for up to 80,000 people in the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia (a region where the child mortality rate from water-borne disease is 1 in 5).

W4W filtration system in action. Photo credit: Rodd Owen

Waves For Water’s philosophy is rooted in one simple idea formed by founder Jon Rose, an ex-pro surfer, “do what you love and help along the way.” As a family who loves surfing and shares a spirit for adventure, we regularly took off with water filters in our board bags, connected with locals, and had first hand experience of the impact that clean water had on the communities we visited. In doing what we loved and helping along the way, we always returned home better versions of ourselves.

Waves For Water sets up rain catchment systems, restores wells and most importantly, implements water filtration systems that give the gift of clean drinking water for many years to come. Working in over 44 countries, it has been agile enough to get to places where we can work directly with locals, tapping into community leaders who care about their people. Whilst COVID-19 crippled our ability to travel, it quickly became acutely apparent that those in isolated regions needed our help even more. Stable health services, good hygiene practice and clean water are universal human rights (not always accessible) and COVID-19 put strain on already fragile health systems.

That’s why this year we joined forces with another Manly-based charity, Australian Doctors International (ADI), to support at risk communities and frontline health workers. Focusing on our neighbours in Papua New Guinea, ADI distributed portable water filters to patrol teams, providing clean drinking water for remote communities and health clinics – many of which operate without clean running water.

Collaboration between the two charities has seen a coming together of like-minds with a common purpose. Our upcoming joint fundraising event celebrates the importance of community in responding to the pandemic, with all funds going towards improving the health of remote communities in PNG and Asia Pacific. It is fitting that we have chosen the hospital site at Q Station for this event. If we get forced to lock down again, be assured it’s the place to be, especially for a stunning sunset drink! Hope to see you there. And feel free to wear your boardies too.

Follow Waves for Water @wavesforwateraustralia and find out more at www.wavesforwater.org

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