July 2006- The program is conceived
Dee and I arrived 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 the fourth most populous nation after China, India and the US and one of the poorer countries in the world. It has high unemployment, lack of basic infrastructure and with 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 US 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 US dollars.
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 3 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 4 students starting next year. As the rally occurs with new boats every year, we anticipate adding at least 4 more students per year so by year 5 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.
October 24, 2006
Everything is in place for the scholarship program. We have agreed to work with 2 of the 3 high schools we met with in Kupang. The headmaster and headmistress respectively are supervising the selection process based upon criteria we created. We also have in place an unbiased review committee to assure impartiality. The scholarships will only go to needy families and in our first year we will be awarding two scholarships for students in the sciences and two for students in language. If the students maintain a 3.0 GPA they can continue through all 4 or 5 years of university. If we fund them for their entire university education they will be required to stay in Kupang or their home village for at least 2 years after school to give back to their community.
Rally participants for next year are already involved in the continuum. Next year's rally will arrive a month before our selected students actually begin university so there will be a dinner and awards ceremony where rally participants will meet the selected students and officially make the awards. The University President will be there to receive the monies and officially welcome the students.
Anyone desiring to donate can do so by sending money via pay-pal to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: August 2007
Update: January 2009
Update: September 2011
For current information on the scholarship program click here.
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