Dunia Baru delivers earthquake relief
For superyacht owner Mark Robba, helping the local community in times of need is second nature.
“At the time of the earthquakes in Lombok, the boat was about to go in for some scheduled maintenance, but I knew immediately that we needed to postpone that in order to help.” For Mark Robba, owner of Dunia Baru, Indonesia and its waters, from Bali to Lombok to Raja Ampat, are home. “I see us and our crew as part of the community,” he explains. “And a community helps each other in times of need.” Little wonder then, that when Lombok was hit so strongly by the devastating 6.9 magnitude earthquake earlier this summer, Robba decided to help out.
Fortunately, the yacht was in Bali at the time and in the perfect position to act as a platform for delivering a significant amount of much-needed items to Lombok. “We mobilised quickly, gathering supplies from thousands of dollars worth of donations from charter clients, colleagues and friends in the space of a few days,” explains Robba. On board, he had gathered a team including Nikko Karki, CEO of Indo Yachts and Fleur Tomlinson, a charter specialist with 37 South Yacht Charter. For both, it proved a transformative experience.
“Seeing the resilient smiles of the people of Lombok, being on the ground and able to help in such a direct way was truly rewarding,” explains Tomlinson. Having sailed through the night from Bali, the team arrived in Lombok early in the morning and spent a morning offloading supplies including thousands of kilos of rice, hundreds of blankets, tents, toys, food and other donated items.
As time went on, it became apparent that there were more remote villages higher up in the mountains that hadn’t received as much help. Trucks were duly loaded up with relief packages and delivered to those places most in need. “It was a team effort from start to finish and everyone mucked in,” says Tomlinson. “We worked with the government, NGOs and the military to help us select the villages most in need and deliver supplies safely. Experiencing a mixed group of people from all different backgrounds and cultures working together to help was an incredibly humbling and moving experience.”
It was Tomlinson’s first visit to the island, but for Karki, Lombok was frighteningly close to home. “We live in Bali and Lombok is the next island over,” he explains. “It could have just as well have been Bali that was hit. As it wasn’t, we owed it to our neighbours to help however we could.” As a father of two young girls, Karki made it a priority to buy and deliver the kind of supplies that he thought would be useful to families with children. “Handing out baby formula, diapers and wipes to the parents and stuffed animals to the kids felt like we were at least spreading some good vibes,” says Karki.
It’s a sentiment shared by Robba, who also had his seven year-old son Colby on board throughout the rescue effort. “Sharing this experience with him was very special. I want him to grow up with a compassionate connection to the people and the world around him,” he explains. “Our yachts enable us to travel to remote areas, often to places that are difficult to reach by land, meaning that we can offer first-hand aid. Whether this be through disaster relief at times like this, regular beach cleanups or helping to fund community projects.”
Robba’s efforts to help the local community are wide-reaching and, in fact, Dunia Baru is currently funding a learning centre in the village of Saundarek in Raja Ampat that will focus on education, conservation and sustainability. “It’s been designed by renowned local architect Popo Danes, and will be a place of education and community, with a well-stocked library and multi-use meeting/teaching space,” explains Robba. The centre will also be a place where other skills can be learned to help locals enhance their tourism offerings, like bringing the standard of meals to a higher level for the small homestays owned and operated by local families.
For now though, Robba is keen to stress that Lombok still needs all the help it can get. “Lombok still needs so much, not just supplies, but funds for things like tools, bulldozers and trucks to help start clearing rubble and rebuilding. There are many wonderful organisations that are working non-stop right now.” He recommends that anyone wanting to get involved should go through international charities such as the Red Cross.
“I feel very emotionally connected to the places we sail. This country is so incredibly diverse and naturally beautiful, and its people are very special. Giving back to the areas that we cruise in is so important.”