VIDEO: The path less travelled
AUSTRALIAN surfer and documentary filmmaker Rob Henry spent the last nine years living among the Mentawai people, an ancient forest-dwelling tribe whose way of life depends solely on the forest and nature's provisions.
About 150km off the coast of West Sumatra, Indonesia, Mentawai is a renowned location for surfers worldwide.
"I was intrigued by the Mentawai people, their levelof freedom and happiness and wanted to understand what they were doing differently to us," Rob said.
"At the same time, I also found that the Mentawai faced their own challenges - how to maintain their language, culture and identity in the face of increasing commercialisation and acculturation."
The experience galvanised Rob to form the Indigenous Education Foundation, a vehicle to support community-based initiatives aimed at preventing long-term poverty among displaced indigenous peoples, achieved through the development of educational programs builtaround the preservation and utilisation of their cultural knowledge, customs and local environment.
During his stay in the Mentawai Islands, Rob learnt the local language and immersed himself in theMentawai's everyday living.
He also made a documentary film as part of a plan to assist the Mentawai in maintaining their culture.
In response to the threats to Mentawai's culture, language and way of life, Rob has been working closely with the indigenous Mentawai community to develop a Cultural and Environmental Education Program, which is ready to implement.
"Our goal is to raise $1million for indigenous education - '#wafsac: watch a film, save a culture' is our rallying call.
"The money raised will allow the Mentawai to deliver their 10-year CEEPimplementation strategy.
"We are planning to builda cultural education centre, publish a Mentawaidictionary and develop a new model of eco-tourism that enables thecommunity a sustainableway to operate and expand their CEEP initiative well into the future."
The Indigenous Education Foundation #wafsac campaign and As Worlds Divide film has screened to sell-out crowds nationwide.
July 4, Sawtell Cinema
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