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Sumba Foundation

Water. Health. Education. Cornerstones to sustain a life.

In every corner of the world, compassion has many forms. On the remote Indonesian island of Sumba, villagers seek basic needs that the western world deems as normal. Water. Health. And education stand as cornerstones to sustain a life. For the Sumbanese, it’s simple. Compassion stands as a necessity, not a luxury. The Sumba Foundation is a U.S. based nonprofit, nongovernmental, public charity dedication to reduce the oppressive impact of poverty on Sumba through humanitarian aid.


This is the story of the advances that human compassion from the Sumba Foundation has helped the people of the remote Indonesian island of Sumba and the ongoing challenges that call for your help.

See how children have had eyesight restored with the help of volunteers.Discover this fascinating corner of the world, the miracles, joy and sorrows its joy, its sorrows and learn how you can help. With your help, the Sumba Foundation has:

– Performed 513 eye operations, including 410 cataract operations.
– Equipped 16 primary schools with water, tables and chairs.
– Built 240 clean water stations West Sumba.
– Supported 16 government midwife clinics with equipment, medicine and training by volunteer medical professionals.
– Helped protect 22,000 people in 400 villages through the Foundation’s Malaria Program. Infection rates have been reduced by 85 percent.


The story of Nihiwatu is a rare and fascinating tale that began when Sumba’s ancestors, the ‘Marapu,’ landed on its secluded beach centuries ago. The same beach attracted Claude and Petra Graves in 1988, in search of the perfect wave. From this adventure emerged a vision to create a resort that would preserve and share the breathtaking beauty of Sumba with those who would truly appreciate it.

By 2012, stories of the unregulated freedom and beauty of Nihiwatu reached renowned brand-building American entrepreneur Christopher Burch, who was told Claude was looking for help to expand the resort. Burch called on a friend from New York’s The Carlyle Hotel—South African-born hotelier James McBride, who was President of YTL Hotels in Singapore at the time—to visit Sumba. Later that year, Burch’s trip with his three sons proved to be a milestone, as he acquired Nihiwatu in partnership with McBride. The acquisition enabled substantial investment with the single priority to evolve Nihiwatu into one of the best resorts in the world, an example of a sustainable operation in harmony with the environment and the Sumbanese people. Nihiwatu was selected as a member of the LiveTheLife Travel Collection.
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Maintaining its deep-rooted philosophy, and through the generosity of Burch, a portion of profits are now repatriated into the Sumba Foundation that Graves and Sean Downs (President of the Sumba Foundation) jointly founded in 2001. With the enthusiastic support of hotel guests, Nihiwatu is a philanthropic vehicle dedicated to fostering community-based projects. During their stay, guests are introduced to the Foundation’s efforts through an impactful presentation and short film. Many guests subsequently become benefactors to the Foundation. The result is a rare collaboration between a resort and its local community that today co-exists with compelling interdependence: the resort has become the biggest employer on the island and the Sumba Foundation gives back to the local communities.

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