January, 17, 2012 - 06:29AM

Two very successful events over the past few months have raised around Rp 65 million in funds, which Gili Trawangan businesses have pledged to be used to improve education facilities and conditions for local school children on this paradise island.

The Fun Day Sunday hosted by the Gili Trawangan Development Association on 18 July 2010 raised over Rp 25,000,000 in funds for the local school, while providing a fun day out for everyone involved. Over 300 children and adults took part in everything from traditional sack races, sand-castle building competitions, the very popular “sponge the boss” game, and a Tacro Tournament. Everyone was entertained by a live band playing on the white sand beach, a beverage bar and delicious food supplied by all the local restaurants.

All hands were on deck for the event with local businesses donating raffle prizes, refreshments, beach games and their time to host the Fun Day for everyone. Lucky participants won generous prizes such as luxury villa stays, fast boat tickets, complimentary meals at Gili Trawangan restaurants and free dives.

The SD-SMP Gili Trawangan (the local school on Gili T) has already presented the Gili Trawangan Development Association with a “wish list” for the school which includes fans, new desks for the students and playground equipment. Funds raised from this initial Fun Day are being used to purchase new fans for the classrooms and water coolers and dispensers for the students. Desks are being manufactured and will be supplied for teachers and students in the near future.

This wonderful event was followed by the Gili Trawangan Charity Triathlon when, for his birthday on Monday 11 October, Manta Dive instructor, Shaun Terry, wanted to compete in a friendly Triathlon. As the idea started to take shape and grow, Shaun decided to make the event a fundraiser for the local community. With the help of all the other dive centres and local businesses, a huge day was pulled together and over Rp 40,000,000 was raised.

The Triathlon started with an Olympic-level swim from the beach in front of Trawangan Dive, where over eighty people, including locals and tourists, tested their strength and fitness against some of the Gili island’s fittest and fastest. The second leg of the Triathlon comprised a bike ride from Trawangan Dive to The Beach House, followed by a very competitive run around the island.

Mike Board from Gili Free Dive & Yoga came in first in the Individual category with an amazing time of 53 minutes, just ahead of Shaun from Manta Dive.

In the Team category, the SMK Tourism High School Team came in first, ahead of the Blue Marlin Dive Team, winning the event in just 55 minutes.

Andy Whitecroft, from Manta Dive, won the Individual Handicap, ahead of Graham from Kelapa Villas; while the girls put on a magnificent performance with Delphine Robbe from the Gili Eco Trust clocking the fastest female time, just minutes ahead of Vanessa Lill from Blue Marlin Dive.

After the Triathlon, everyone joined in at a special charity BBQ and Buffet at The Beach House, before moving on to Blue Marlin Dive for a huge after-party where the raffle was drawn!

Funds raised by the Triathlon are being donated to the SMK Pariwisata (Tourism School), a special branch of the local school that was opened last year to allow the older children to stay on the island for higher education, specialising in training in the tourism industry. The generous sum raised by the community event will go a long way toward developing the new school, with the aim of bringing equipment and facilities up to national standards.

The Gili Trawangan community is committed to supporting the local environment and community and is really setting the standard in Lombok; working with local communities for effective and sustainable development on the island.

Lets see if the government can match the donation or help with the maintainence of the school and all the new projects started by the Gili Eco Trust and the Gili Trawangan Development Association.