This past week has been an exciting one for Dunia Baru: just a few days after being recognised as Best Asia-Based Charter Company at the prestigious Asia Boating Awards, owner Mark Robba has announced that Dunia Baru will be building a learning center at a remote village in Raja Ampat. Robba has just sailed to Saundarek, where he and architect Popo Danes met with village leaders and the Raja Ampat government to finalise the site for the center. Through this project, Dunia Baru will be working with the communities of Raja Ampat to improve education and pioneer a sustainable future.
Once built, the learning center will be a place of education and community, with a well-stocked library and multi-use meeting/teaching space. While the environment, conservation and the importance of preserving the unique local habits for the future of Raja Ampat will be taught, it will also be a place where other skills can be learned, for example cooking and how to bring the standard of meals and food preparation to a higher level for small homestays owned and operated by local families.
It was a meeting between Mark Robba, owner of Dunia Baru, and the Raja Ampat government in early 2018 that highlighted the need for libraries in the archipelago and birthed the idea for the project. Robba had been searching for a meaningful way to give back to the area and this was the perfect opportunity. The Raja Ampat Tourism Authority recommended Saundarek, a village on Mansuar island, as the first site for a library.
“By pure coincidence, on the morning that our meeting was held, my family and I had been near Saundarek village,” says Robba. “My six-year-old son had such a great time there, snorkeling and playing with the children – it was really special, and such a beautiful place. To have an ongoing connection to this village has my family and I very excited.”
There are 17 other villages around Raja Ampat that have been identified as potential sites for libraries and learning centers, and Robba is hoping that other yachts operating in the Raja Ampat area as well as future charter guests will follow Dunia Baru’s lead and assist with building in the other villages.
Raja Ampat, an archipelago in the far east of Indonesia, is an area of real significance to Dunia Baru. One of the richest, most diverse marine environments on the planet, the yacht spends several months each year cruising among its 1500 islands and limestone karsts. “Raja Ampat is a very special place for me and my family as well as for Dunia Baru and her charter guests,” says Robba. “The scenery is amazing; and the people have always been so kind. Every time I leave Raja Ampat I long to return. It means a lot that I am able to give back to the area with this project.”
The design of the center will be lead by Popo Danes, a top Indonesian architect. “I know that for any venture to be successful you must get the right people involved,” says Robba. “The first person I thought about was my good friend and renowned architect Popo Danes, who immediately agreed to be involved. He then offered the services of his large team of architects, and the excitement continued to grow.”
Danes is one of Indonesia’s most acclaimed architects, with a portfolio that includes projects such as Ubud Hanging Gardens. He is known for creating buildings that are carefully considered, in harmony with their natural surroundings and with local architectural traditions. The project will use local builders and materials with an emphasis on sustainability. “The Center had to be built with principles of sustainability and using local labor and building practices – we want to highlight the local culture, skills and materials,” says Robba.
While fishing sustains the people of Saundarek, they value and protect the reefs that surround the village and, aware of the benefits tourism will bring to the area, are eager to ensure an economically viable and sustainable future for their families and environment.
“We are proud and excited to be working alongside the people of Saundarek to safeguard the future of this spectacular place,” says Robba.
The eco-learning center is due to open at the end of November 2018.
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