Darwin- Kupang Rally Scolarships
From: Rob and Dee Durbin aboard S/V “Ventana”
Dee and I arrived this week in Kupang, Indonesia
after sailing 2,200 miles along the Australian coast and then completing a 4-day passage
across a portion of the Indian Ocean
. Normally we cruise
on our own, joining other boats informally if we are heading the same direction, but to simplify the complex immigration and customs
entry into Indonesia
we joined a rally of many other boats heading the same way.
Indonesia is one of the poorest countries in the world outside of sub Saharan Africa
. With 40% unemployment, and tourism down from earthquakes, tsunamis, and unrest in nearby East Timor, the buying
power of the U.S. dollar is astronomical. My lunch ashore today cost 80 cents. In our sailing travels we have visited a great many poor countries and we do our best to donate school books
, clothes, pens and pencils for the kids
and such but in reality these efforts are not even a band aid for what's necessary. At best we help a few kids
for a short period of time but I doubt our efforts have any long lasting effect or help to improve the country in any way. We expected our arrival here to be the same.
When all the boats in the rally arrived, we received an unbelievable welcome from the entire city with dinners held in our honor by the mayor and governor. Also on hand to meet us were a dozen university students who wanted to improve their English
by acting as our volunteer guides around this good size city.
Our guide, Nita, spoke excellent English
and was one of the most intelligent and dynamic young women we have ever met. Had she been born in the U.S. she would no doubt be on a full ride scholarship to the university of her choice. Fortunately she was on scholarship to the state university here, as her family
could not afford her yearly tuition of $170.
When I realized there must be dozens of other students like Nita who would miss out on a college education for the lack of $170, I thought maybe we finally had a chance to really make a difference. Fortunately, the other cruisers in our rally felt the same way. In only 6 days since we arrived here Dee and I have formed a foundation to help bright but needy students get to college; met with the University President and received his agreement to hold space open for students we sponsor and to waive the usual government red tape for them; met with the Headmasters of three high schools who have agreed to set up a selection process based upon the criteria we designed, and we have already raised enough money to provide a complete college education for four students starting next year.
As the rally occurs with new boats every year, we anticipate adding at least four more students per year so by year five we should be funding
a minimum of 20 students.
We are supporting students in the sciences and language programs and I have no doubts that some of these students will change both their future and their country's. We depart tomorrow for points west on our sail to Bali, Singapore
and arriving in Thailand
by December - for a change we know we are leaving behind more than just our boat's wake.
Rob and Dee Durbin
The foundation, when it is fully set up, will have a page on the sail Indonesia website < http://www.sailindonesia.net
> where people can make donations, and that it will be an ongoing part of the Darwin- Kupang Rally.