During one of the village visits we made on a trip with SeaTrek in 2018, there was a village where the houses were built on stilts just above the water, which sadly had so much plastic trash floating in the water just underneath their houses, especially single-use plastics and other non-biodegradable things It was a very sad scene to see. On top of that, there are still many areas where dynamite fishing practice are still very much alive. All of this is because of lack of understanding of coral reef and the ocean’s value, and our environment in general.
There are many reasons why unsustainable practices are being used by people living along the coast. One of which is because it’s easy and quick money. Many people live below the poverty line, all they think about is how they can provide food on the table at least once a day for the family. Many of them struggle to feed their family day to day, so when an opportunity to make quick money like dynamite fishing arises, they quickly jump on it. Another factor is because they just simply don’t know the effect of dynamite fishing practice has to them directly. So, we need to also think from their perspective as to what drives them into doing what they are doing and how we can change these behaviours.
Education is a good place to start and it can help in two ways:
- It gives them a new perspective in how unsustainable fishing practice hurts them directly and economically both in short and long run.
- It gives them the chance for a better life opportunity, hence not just making a living out of fishing but also something else which hopefully will take them out of living below the poverty line.
THE 100 GOGGLES PROJECT
I realised that people won’t protect something that they don’t know exists or if they are not aware of the value and the direct impact something has to them. So, I came up with the idea of giving out swim goggles to children so that they can see that there is life underneath the surface of the sea that they’re living in; the very life underwater that supports their life above the water.
This project is perfect because it complements the two children’s books that are already being distributed to schools and villages by SeaTrek throughout all the routes that we go to. The books are about the ocean; one is called “Wayan and the Turtle King” and the other is called “Ocean Champions”. After the children read the books and see the illustration of the fish and all the marine life, they then can see the real thing wearing their goggles just a few steps away from their house.
Children are also my main subject because many older generations are a little bit stuck in their points of view – ‘the way they do things have been working out well for them, so why change’ kind of attitude is something that will be a bit hard to persuade to change. Young children, on the other hand, are still growing and easier to instil the correct mindset as early as possible..
I have also witnessed many organizations fail to change the mindset of these people because you cannot just walk in and say these people are wrong. It will never work that way. They will think you are an intruder or a stranger who have no business in telling them what to do. When trying to change the way people think, a radical way doesn’t always work, especially in the long run. We have to infiltrate, get to know them better, see and learn everything from their perspective; then try slowly changing the behaviour. We should also come up with a solution, not just come in and “scold” them into doing things.
MY PROJECT IN THE MEDIA
- Planet A Podcast – I was interviewed on a podcast by an activist called Manuel Bergmann last year.
- Instagram and Facebook Peek Under the Surface
- Publication on Scuba Diver Magazine UK
- I won the ‘Inspiring Change Maker’ 2020 Award by BaliWise and the Role Foundation because of my work through Peek Under The Surface.
At the beginning, I was helped out by two other friends, but late last year they were caught up in their own busy lives so I was left alone organizing this, hence the very slow in keeping up with posting pictures in the media. Thankfully, SeaTrek has been absolutely supportive of this Peek Under the Surface project, especially Frank Hyde, one of the partners, who is very keen on helping and encourages me to buy at least 10 pairs every time I am out sailing on a SeaTrek boat.
I WAS THEM
Peek Under the Surface project is close to my heart and really hits home because I too did not appreciate what the ocean had to offer until I was able to see what was below the surface for myself. From the moment I saw what lay beneath the waves through snorkelling and scuba diving, I was instantly hooked and amazed by how beautiful it really is down there and how much it brings a certain rush of happiness. The more I get myself out there snorkelling and scuba diving, the more I fall in love with what’s laying underneath the ocean’s surface. The more I love it, the more I want to protect it. So, I vowed to myself to protect and preserve the ocean as much as I possibly could. This project and organization are an effort to stay true to that vow.
HOW OTHERS CAN HELP
At the moment, I absolutely don’t want any donations in terms of money. It’s just too big a responsibility for me to manage at the moment. Some other alternatives are:
- Buy one or more pair of goggles or masks and send it to us. We will notify you whenever they’ve been donated along with a picture of the children and the goggles or masks.
- Donate second-hand goggles or masks that are still in good condition. We will notify you whenever they have been donated along with a picture of the children and the goggles or masks.
THE NEXT PROJECT
The main organization is called Peek Under The Surface which for now only carries one project – the 100 Goggles Project. I have another vision which is yet to be properly planned out and executed which is called the Ayo Berenang Project. The project’s name means “let’s swim” in Indonesian, and aims to teach children to swim for free. The idea is to do it one or two times a week with proper swim teachers (both paid and volunteers).
MY MESSAGE TO THE WORLD
Always be kind and thoughtful of how others see the world. Especially those who live in poor and developing countries. Not everybody has the luxury of knowing how much we have damaged the planet, so in order to get our message across, we need to do it kind, thoughtful, and understanding of others perspectives.