Women on a Mission & International SOS Partner on Expedition to Remote Indonesian Island
In November 2019, Women on a Mission (WOAM), a non-profit organisation that supports and empowers women survivors of war and abuse through challenging all-female expeditions, will be supported by International SOS, the world’s leading medical and travel security risk services company. The team is commencing on a twelve-day expedition to visit the Mentawai Tribe of Siberut Island – also known as the Last Shamans of Indonesia. International SOS will equip the team with destination-specific pre-travel medical and security advice, as well as provide assistance in case of any emergency.
“The inspiring work of WOAM, to empower women survivors of war and abuse, places them in unfamiliar terrains or least travelled regions around the world. We are very pleased to work with WOAM on this expedition, raising awareness on the potential health and safety risks when travelling in Siberut, such as possible injuries from falls or risk of malaria. We hope to contribute to the safety and success of the expedition by helping the team make well-informed decisions during the trip,” said Juliana Gim, Managing Director of International SOS.
The Mentawai are the native people of Pulau Siberut, a little island off the western coast of Sumatra located just below the equator along Indonesia’s famous Ring of Fire, one of the most seismically active regions in the world. In the 17th century, explorers called it “the Island of Good Fortune” despite the fact it is an isolated ribbon of land, about a hundred kilometres in length, entirely covered in a thick tropical, swampy, malarial forest. The Mentawai people have been living in the heart of the humid forest of the island for millennia and have maintained their traditional way of life building their umas, the community long-houses, eating sago and hunting monkeys with poisoned arrows.
The expedition’s objective is to raise $100,000 Singapore Dollars (SGD) for ‘Women for Women’ International – a charity which provides women survivors of war and conflict with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency. WOAM, now in its seventh year of operation, has raised well over $1,000,000 SGD to date, to support organisations that advance the position of women around the world.
In addition to ‘Women for Women International’, the team also champions and raises funds for the following Singapore-based charities: AWARE - Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group; UN Women; Aidha - a Singapore NGO empowering domestic workers; and Pertapis Home for Women and Girls. This will be WOAM’s 10th expedition to date, their past nine expeditions have been to regions of the Himalayas, the Middle East, Africa, Mongolia and the Arctic Circle.
“International SOS’ support allows WOAM to embark on the expedition with the added peace of mind of having the support of a global network of experts in case of a crisis or medical emergency. International SOS operates in more than 1,000 locations in 90 countries, and having easy access to their security and medical services through a single point of contact will help us make the right decision for the team at any critical time,” said WOAM Co-Founder Christine Amour-Levar. She added, “We are very excited to work with International SOS on this next expedition to Indonesia.
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About the Expedition
The team will begin their voyage in Padang, Western Sumatra in Indonesia, then transfer to Muara seaport and take a three-hour speed boat ride, crossing the Mentawai Strait to the tiny village of Muara Siberut. Then by local canoes, the team will head upstream on the Madobak river through beautiful jungle panoramas, to Buttui where they will spend their first night in Aman Ipai and meet the newly enthroned shaman of the Sararakeit tribe.
From there the jungle trek begins. The women will walk about eight hours daily deeper into the jungle, through narrow paths, over fallen trees, sometimes through swamps and shallow rivers. They will occasionally come across small hamlets of local tribes. The expectation is that there will be no other tourists along the way, just the team, its porters and guides, and perhaps a few reptiles or jungle crested cockatoos, cassowaries and wild boars.The reward at the end of a long day of jungle trekking will be to reach a small "dusun" or jungle hamlet, inhabited by one or two nomadic tribal families.
For the next few days the team will share their daily life. They will sleep on a wooden floor under mosquito nets and take part in the many activities of the tribe, such as cutting sago trees; looking for sago worms in the stumps and preparing sago flour - the basis of local food; fishing with the women of the clan; collecting herbs, leaves and bark to prepare medicine; helping them tend to small gardens; and following the wild boar and monkey hunters for many hours deep into the jungle. The women will also experience the ceremonies and the rituals of the shamans in the clan, which include talking to their ancestors, and the trees and plants around them, trance dancing and story-telling involving black and white magic.
Notes to Editors
Founded in 2012, WOAM is a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore, which combines challenging, self-funded, expeditions and treks to remote and majestic locations around the world, with inspirational fundraising events and workshops in Singapore and abroad, to raise awareness and funds for women survivors of war and to support and empower women who have been subjected to violence and abuse. WOAM’s strategy is to organise and promote yearly campaigns and challenging expeditions to increase visibility, and to raise money for specific charities. The organisation partners with existing established non-profit institutions that already have well run programmes and structures in place dedicated to serving the underprivileged with a particular focus on women's issues.
About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help you meet compliance reporting needs for good governance. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.
Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group is trusted by 11,000 organisations, including over half of the Fortune Global 500, multi-national corporate clients and mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 11,000 multi-cultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,000 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.
To protect your workforce, visit www.internationalsos.com.
Eleven intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds form the team of this ‘Women on a Mission’ Expedition to Indonesia 2019. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about supporting charitable causes and helping the less privileged. To read the team bios please click here.
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To support the team please donate via their fundraising page here.