Sea Communities was born when an Australian non-profit marine organisation, DiVo Dive Voluntourism, was brought to Les village in 2012 by Cipto Gunawan, Indonesia's first PADI course director and current SSI National Advisor. They worked together with Gede Yudarta, a Les village elder, and the fisherfolk cooperative of Les village to bring voluntourism to the reef rehabilitation efforts started by the fisherfolk with the help of Cipto. Sea Communities started operations with the crucial joining of a community facilitator on the ground and later co-opted a US diver-investor to further its reach to volunteers overseas.
The mission statement of Sea Communities is this simple ethos: that by loving the oceans and the environment, seaside communities can have better, sustainable livelihoods than by destroying Mother Earth. We believe in education through action, bringing volunteers using their hands to rebuild the reef. We believe in empowering the villagers to make a better living in harmony with their land and seas.
Today, Sea Communities is a social enterprise for the villagers of Les to rebuild the reefs of Les and improve the livelihoods of the villagers through its marine, English teaching and community outreach programs. The success of Les model has been studied by NGOs. Other villages and indigenous groups in Indonesia send their representatives to Les to see how they can emulate this model. Sea Communities hopes to roll out this model to other seaside communities in Indonesia.
Sea Communities has individuals with a mix of expertise in dive tourism and village community building working with the Les villagers. We also work closely with the following Indonesian organisations:
Mina Bhakti Segara Lestari is a community cooperative of village fishermen with experience in ornamental fish conservation and coral gardening. Its present leader, Pak Made Merta, and its members were at the forefront of the shift in their village from cyanide fishing to more sustainable fishing methods. They have more than a decade experience in coral reef rebuilding.
Perseroan Terbatas Poros Nusantara Utama is a limited liability company affiliated with the Indonesian environmental NGO, Telapak. It provides technical assistance in incubating and nurturing sustainable community based resource management initiatives and social entrepreneurship.
In addition to these organizations, individuals who generously lent their ideas and extended support include Nonette Royo of Samdhana Institute and Ambrosius “Ruwi” Ruwindrijarto of Telapak.