What is Ocean of Hope Foundation?
In January 2009 Ridlon and I created Ocean of Hope Foundation. The foundation exists for the purpose of furthering the cause of ocean conservation. Our path is a grass roots operation which initially supplies schools in ocean shore villages the needed infrastructure for basic education and then encompasses teaching on the need for stewardship of the ocean around them. We are currently working with two oceanside villages in Fiji and are in the initial stages of work in villages near Misool Island in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia.
The idea for the foundation was born from our world travels in developing nations and our extensive experience scuba diving the world’s great coral reef ecosystems. We found villages around the world that, while they relied on the ocean for their livelihood, had very little understanding of the ecosystem and some, very little respect for the underwater world that supplies their economy.
Why Ocean of Hope Foundation?
Most of the children have never known the joy of putting on a mask and seeing the beauty beneath the waves. A coral reef meant nothing but a meal. Without understanding of the delicate and beautiful ocean next to their doorsteps, generations will continue to take and destroy the fragile world around them. Our goal, is to educate the next generation of children to become caretakers of the ocean and to understand a balance between making a living from the sea and protecting its valuable resources. We believe that the world changes one person and thus one village at a time. For us, having personal contact with the people who are literally in the fishing boats and eating the resources is the best place to create a lasting sea change. While sweeping reform of our world’s fishing policies is absolutely necessary, we leave that to other organizations with the skills in that area. Our personal strengths lie in one on one connections in the heart of the villages.
How Did We Decide Where to Help?
We chose our first villages based on need as well as proximity to the ocean. We also chose villages near scuba diving resorts. We did this for a few reasons. First, communication is difficult and slow at best so by partnering with dive resorts, we can have a liaison to the village. Second, it’s important for the village children to get a first hand look at the reefs. Dive resorts have the resources, material and staff to give this opportunity to the children through video and photo presentations as well as hands on experience snorkeling in their own waters. Third, through our for profit company, Global Diving Adventures, we are able to bring dive groups to the resort who are able to further assist the villages with both their time and their financial resources.
Our Current Status
We began our organization just as the world economic crisis hit. Because of this, our progress has been slow. We are six months into the process with the IRS of obtaining our 501 3 c status which will then allow us to apply for grants and allow all contributions to be tax deductible. We are committed to creating an organization that will make a positive contribution to the world, it’s people and an ocean who’s future hangs not only in a balance but also in our hands.
I believe that as we grow as humans, we only too slowly come to the realization that we want desperately to give back to the world. Ridlon and I have always known we wanted to give back and have always tried in our own small way. However, we had some personal revelations that made us realize that we were spending our lives saving for a rainy day….but it was already pouring outside.
In my next two posts, I will give you some insight into our revelations. Meanwhile, please take a few moments and look at our website, www.oceanofhope.net and we hope you will be inspired to join us.
To Your Adventures,