When an earthquake hits the Mentawai, or surrounding region, their world literally goes upside-down and we go into full-on emergency response mode. For a couple of weeks, it’s a super hectic period as we try to reach the outlying villages with aid – food, shelter, building and hygiene kits - and raise funding at the same time.
After the October 2010 tsunami, we received an email from American photographer Michael Lawrence, who was in Bali at the time. He wanted to help by documenting our work and the people of the Mentawai. He didn’t want to be paid.
We got Michael onto one of the surf charter boats we had hired and he followed our staff working in the field, and documented the aftermath of a terrible tragedy.
The first images we received took our breath away. Very poignant, powerful and raw. It moved us so much we ended up basing our whole new website design around Michael’s imagery.
He sent back this note: “Really happy to hear that the images are being received well. It's been my pleasure working with you guys … I'd love to continue. Truth be told, the trip was one of the best things I have ever done ... personally or creatively. Life changing would be an understatement. Affirming. Slightly tormenting. Entirely worth it.”
To raise funds to help people like the communities in the Mentawai, you need to present the reality of their lives so people can feel empathy.
Thank you Michael for helping us achieve that.
You can view more of Michael's work at surfaid.tumblr.com.