“Roughly 10 years ago I was on a boat trip in the Mentawai Islands and we docked in port to re-fuel. The passengers were freaking just to open the doors in case of mosquitoes and the threat of malaria. Time to explore, I thought.
You can view more of Russell's work from the islands at surfaid.tumblr.com.
“The first guy I ran into spoke perfect English, which was lucky for me because my Indonesian was shabby at best, and he gave me a tour of the village while pumping out three Red Hot Chili Pepper songs. It was classic to say the least. He also asked two questions: 1) Are you scared of malaria and 2) Are you scared of Islam? Pretty powerful questions.
“Answering ‘no’ to both he then went on and told me about his culture and also of a doctor who was recently in the village providing mosquito nets and malaria education and that most of the malaria had disappeared. How bloody amazing are some people, I thought to myself. I later found out that it was SurfAid distributing the nets.
“Now to be a SurfAid ambassador many years later means a lot to me personally, even though I know that I need to do more. Providing photos or services is just a tiny drop in the ocean. One thing I do like is that when corporations, especially those that are surf-related, have the nerve to ask for photos and in return they will give me credit, I say: ‘Well how about you donate to the SurfAid cause.’ Some do actually, which is nice, but hats off to the people who have dedicated their lives to others ... mind-blowing.”
Thank you Russell for your brilliant photography. Legend stuff.