Every diver dreams of exploring the waters of Apo Island. Located off the coast of Negros Oriental, this marine protected area is famous for its abundant coral reefs and large aggregation of sea turtles—drawing flocks of tourists that, for years, have helped support the livelihood of many families on the island.
However, with the Covid-19 pandemic virtually halting all forms of travel this year, the local community has had a tough time making ends meet. Many of them worked as boat operators, dive masters, and food vendors, and without regular income, they’ve returned to fishing and farming just to get by. Still, resources on the island are limited—including access to drinking water and farmable land.
In response, a group of scientists, friends, and storytellers who’ve worked closely with the community over the years have started a fundraising campaign to help the people of Apo Island. “Friends of Apo Island,” an initiative led by marine scientist Dr. Rene Abesamis, storyteller Carmen del Prado, and local non-profit LAMAVE, aims to raise at least P100,000 to buy food packages for 225 families especially this holiday season.
“If we manage to raise more than the target, the money will [also] be used to provide goods to support the community in the long-term, such as seeds or farming tools, [depending] on their greatest need,” the campaign heads said.
A donation of P250 will provide a food package to benefit one family. Interested donors can visit https://gogetfunding.com/apoisland/ to learn more.
Photos courtesy of Friends of Apo Island
In 2017, we published The GRID Expedition II, a story about local marine conservation and how marine protected areas like Apo Island can help communities as a whole. Watch the four-part video series: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4.