IIF Project Manager Masril Akhmad talks about how the company’s charitable foundation continues to support the community of Lombok.
This week marks five months since Indonesia closed its borders to international tourists in a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given Lombok’s popularity as a tourist destination, the restrictions have disrupted the island’s economy, leaving many residents without their main source of income.
It is with this in mind that charities such as the Invest Islands Foundation, the Lombok Eco International Connection, and Endri Foundation have launched projects aimed at helping locals through the pandemic.
Invest Islands Foundation Project Manager Masril Akhmad told WILLIAMS MEDIA the community had so far come together admirably to help those in need.
“While the number of people infected on the island has been relatively low, COVID-19 has really badly affected Lombok’s local community in other ways,” he said.
“Most locals rely on selling their agricultural produce, but with markets closed people have increasingly struggled.
“That’s why, very early in the pandemic, we raised almost 48 million rupiahs and used it to help more than 1,500 people most in need across the island, providing food, clean water, hand sanitizers, face masks, soap, and much more.”
Created in 2019 since the Foundation’s creation in August 2019, the foundation’s objective is two-fold- to help Lombok in its aim to be plastic-free and to help its residents grow as the island’s investment and infrastructure grows.
A trash collection project has not only cleared some of Lombok’s more popular beaches of more than 5,000kg of the waste but also provided regular incomes to the all-female team who meet each morning to collect and sort the various waste for recycling.
Another project recently resulted in the completion of a new school and educational materials for children who were until last year being taught in a building with crumbling walls and insecure roof.
Invest Islands co-founder Kevin Deisser said the foundation had shown how a property investment company and charity were able to work off each other.
“I think a property investment company and a charity can are able to go hand-in-hand,” he said“By its very definition, a property investment business must bring large amounts of capital into the region.
“When properly spent, this capital should not only benefit investors but all stakeholders — particularly those within the local communities who live around the projects that are being developed.
“By helping them with support through a legal, non-profit entity, we are in a position to do this in a transparent, trackable way, which hopefully in return gives the confidence to future donors to support our projects.”
Fellow co-founder Jack Brown said while education was a key part of the foundation’s goals achieving both goals, there was no quick fix.
“We want to all rise up together and have a bright future together and improving the education standards is the best way to do that,” he said.
“It has been the culture of Indonesians for generations to look after each other in the community, but what has been particularly interesting for me to see in Lombok is that a big part of the help — both financially and on the ground — has come from the ex-pat communities and foreign business owners.
“That bodes well for the future, and also strengthens our belief that we are doing things right.”
The coronavirus pandemic forced some of the Foundation’s plans and projects to be put on hold, but it also allowed the NGO — of which 100 percent of day-to-day staff are Indonesian — to get on top of its administration.
It also recently launched a new website to provide greater transparency, more information about its various initiatives, and make it easier for people to donate.