During the recent General Assembly in Glion, our alumni donated CHF 6’000.- to the Sumba Hospitality Foundation with the aim of supporting the young hospitality talents on Sumba island. CHF 13’000.- more was collected through the generous donation of general Assembly participants during the traditional Tombola and Auction.

In order to better understand how these funds will make the difference in the world, it is crucial to learn more about the Sumba Hospitality Foundation.

Sumba Hospitality Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Glion alumna, Inge de Lathauwer, who discovered this island 4 years ago and recognized its natural beauty and potential. At the same time, she realized that the locals lived in very bad conditions and that one of the major challenges was malnutrition. The land on the island was too dry with little rain, so it was very difficult to cultivate the soil.

Additionally, there were many signs that tourism will rapidly develop on this island. For example, a new airport was recently opened and many companies decided to add Sumba as a new touristic destination. But the locals were not aware that this might influence their lives. Inge wanted to make sure that the locals are prepared for this change in order to be able to benefit from it. As a result, she created a plan to help the community of Sumba and established the foundation.

Sumba is one of the poorest islands of Indonesia with around 800’000 inhabitants and little opportunities for schooling: Sumba is only the third school for higher education on the island. Therefore, it was of the utmost importance to equip the local inhabitants with the right skills and knowledge that would truly help them in the future. Consequently, the new school offered a combination of hospitality and permaculture farming education to the young population. Its program consisted of 9-month training and studying on campus, followed by an internship in one of the hotels in Bali.

The school was built fully respecting the nature and environment. Bamboo was used to construct all the buildings because it is the fastest-growing plant on the island and it is easy to maintain. 288 solar panels were installed to provide 100% of the energy needed for operations. Water filters were set up in order to use the existing water as a drinkable supply. A permaculture garden was created so that all the fresh food could be produced locally. “A no plastic” strategy was put into place and regular trash walks with students were organized. By building the school in this way, Sumba Hospitality Foundation wanted to pass a message: tourism is coming, but please make sure that it does not make a plastic island out of Sumba.

The first generation of students entered the school last year, and is now going out on internships. At the very beginning of their education, most of them had never seen a hotel or a restaurant, and some of them did not even know what a tourist was. They did not speak English and did not have any hopes for the future. Today, these students are capable of working in any hospitality institution, speak a good level of English, know much about sustainability and have a well-developed set of skills.

For the second generation, Sumba Hospitality Foundation has already received 800 applications, for only 48 available spots. They will soon select their students by looking for the most motivated individuals who possess the right “sparkle in the eye”. As previously done, school administrators will visit the families of chosen candidates to give them all the necessary details about their child’s/relative’s education and give them a sense of belonging.

But Sumba Hospitality Foundation will not only offer help to the selected number of individuals. It also provides English classes for the whole community, it teaches local farmers about how they can better cultivate the land, it hires doctors who deliver necessary healthcare to the entire community, and it engages with the local government for development projects. Its next project is to create a sustainable tourism development plan for the entire island and to set up the right model for many future tourism destinations. Alumni donations will definitely help them with this objective and will contribute to the healthier world.

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