“You can’t talk about conservation to hungry people,” Winata said, and that statement sums up the action plans of the foundation he chairs. Based on the findings during his stay in a few villages around Anambas and conversed with numerous local communities and government officials, we have identified a series of programs and activities to assist and complement what have been initiated by the local government.   The marine and forest conservation programs are to restore coral and forest conditions to be used for tourism while securing the availability of fish for the fishermen to catch sustainably. English lessons will provide the locals options to work in the tourism sector. Solid waste management is very urgent to put into action, not only to keep the ocean and the villages clean and increase hygiene for better health, but also to change the locals’ habit of littering and damaging the environment. If managed properly with the environment and the local empowerment in mind, it will not take long before Anambas becomes Indonesia’s major eco-tourist attraction.

Getting such direct insights from the local community was not as hard as he had predicted. Despite the poverty and low education, the people of Anambas are very open and friendly. Bawah Anambas Foundation currently focuses on implementing pilot programs in the village of Kiabu, Mengkait, and Telaga, the poorest and the farthest villages from Tarempa, the capital of the Anambas Islands. The remoteness of their locations with lack of sea transportations has made daily life tough.

“They may not be hungry, but to get proper health and high education facilities, they will have to go to Tarempa, or neighboring big cities like Batam or Pekanbaru. That is why our programs are mainly to prepare them to live self-sufficiently by acquiring alternative livelihood, so they could afford education and healthcare, and at the same time, conserve the sea and the forests in the area,” explained Winata, who have worked with the United Nations’ World Food Programme and the World Bank, before joining a consulting firm working closely with various private sector companies committed to sustainability issues, Robertsbrige Consultant Limited.

“I am very excited because everybody involved in the foundation has the same vision. The Bawah Anambas Foundation was established to manage the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds of Bawah Reserve, but before the luxury resort gains profit, as it is still newly operated, our visionary founder has commitment to support the foundation’s programs, so they can be implemented at the soonest. The road is still long but working with like-minded people makes the struggle less hard,” he concluded.