I have lived in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra for almost 6 years. Having come here originally to work with an NGO, I completely fell in love with the place, environment and the people and ended up staying. Now the founder of Sumatra EcoVentures, married, have a cat and living in the community, I feel responsible to help the community affected by COVID-19 and create this fundraiser.
We work closely with local people and communities, developing new eco treks and tours, providing work and a fair income for many local people. We help promote local traditions and activities to show people from around the world how special North Sumatra is and its people.
Why this fundraiser?
This fundraiser is to help the guides and community through the lockdown period with no income from tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We will use the raised funds to buy essential items to make up food packages and deliver them to guides, families and people most affected by the coronavirus lockdown.
We do not know how long this crisis will last or if people will start travelling again after the pandemic.
Bukit Lawang is a beautiful small tourism village and is the main access to the amazing Gunung Leuser National Park, which is the last place on earth to still have Tigers, Orangutans, Elephants, Rhinos and Sunbears. It is visited by over 500,000 visitors, local and foreign, every year! Most foreign visitors come to trek in the jungle to see the Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutans which live freely.
Without tourism, the Gunung Leuser NP and its Orangutans would be under threat, as local peope would turn to illegal hunting, poaching and deforestation for an income.
Bukit Lawang and surrounding villages primarily rely on tourism as an income. The guides are very protective of 'their jungle' and love to show visitors from around the world the jungle. There are also many people working in guesthouses, cafes, souvenir shops, restaurants and local warungs.
Due to Coronavirus outbreak, the National Park was closed in February, to protect the ex-captive Orangutans living freely in the jungle. They can catch the common cold and flu from us, so its likely they could catch COVID-19 from us!..... it would be devastating to the local population of Orangutans.
This closures means that all guides, assistant guides and porters have no work or income. Relying on what little money they have, as the coronavirus struck during the low season.
With the majority of the world still in lockdown, travel has stopped.
** UPDATE: Bukit Lawang is now open. However, peoples ID are checked and are asked to wear a mask.
Sumatra EcoVentures has a small team of guides, assistant guides, porters and drivers which have all lost their income. Its sad to see them struggling! It is also sad to see people in my village struggling as their shops are closed and they cant sell any of their hand-made handicrafts.
We understand that other places are in the same situation, but because its been low season for the last 3 months here and with the majority of people relying on tourism for an income, the community is already struggling. Now with the added crisis of Coronavirus outbreak.
We hope that former guests, visitors and some of our followers will help the friendly and kind-hearted people here.
How your donations will help
We will make up food packages accordingly to the guide, family or person. These will generally consist of:
- 5 or 10kg rice = £2.50 or £5 respectively
- 1kg cooking oil = 70p
- tea = 30p
- Coffee 900g or 1/2 kg = 25p / 80p
- Sugar 1/2 kg or 1kg = 40p / 90p
- 10 packs of instant noodles = 50p
- Washing up liquid = 75p
- Washing powder 1kg = 80p
- ketchup manis = 40p
- 1 tray eggs = £1.65
The price of a package is around £8 or £12
A small amount will go a long way! These food packages will last a family a few weeks.
Thank you for reading about this fundraiser, the people and village I love and live in. Even a small donation will go a long way!
Please feel free to share and raise awareness of the situation here.
We say a BIG Thank you - Terima Kasih banyak
Louise and Heri