It has become a habit for some of our guests to leave old clothes, shoes or other belongings here that they don’t want to take home anymore. Especially guests who come for the second or third time know that we are very happy to accept anything that is still in good shape and can be worn or used again. Sometimes we even get dive equipment, such as fins, masks, snorkels or even wetsuits which of course are extremely valuable to our dive team.
You might ask yourself whether we’ve run out of clothes on our remote little island. Rest assured, we still have enough to wear and are far from running around naked through the jungle! But some of our local staff come from very poor families and don’t have much to wear apart from the uniform we provide them for work. One of our employees, for example, only has one private t-shirt – quite hard to imagine if you come from such a rich country as I do.
But we don’t just distribute the clothes, that would be too boring. And not in the spirit of Raja4Divers. Every two or three months, when the two boxes we collect the clothes in start to overflow, we organize what they call a “tombola” for the employees. It’s THE event for everybody - not one of the employees nor of the guests would want to miss it!
All articles are displayed in a corner of the restaurant after dinner. Many of our staff get in early to inspect everything very thoroughly before it all starts. Usually around 9pm, everybody gets to pick a number from a pot. Then Maya starts to draw numbers from another pot and reads them out aloud. The one with the same number is allowed to choose something at his choice first. Then the next number is drawn and the next employee is allowed to pick an item, and so on. It usually takes two to three rounds, until everything is gone.
But don’t think, this all happens quietly! Everybody comments on the others’ choices, yells advice on what to pick or they all laugh at one of the guys taking a skirt or beauty products for his wife back home. It’s both funny and endearing to see, how happy some of them are about a pair of sneakers they’ve been dreaming of or a nice shirt they would never be able to buy from their own money. For our guests, it’s a lot of fun to watch this and joke around with the staff. But for them, I think it means a lot more – it’s both entertainment and a very welcome addition to their salary. And since they don’t receive these clothes from us as a “donation” but they “win” them in a draw, I guess it doesn’t make them feel bad. It’s a game, but a very helpful one. And I think they don’t take it for granted to receive things for free on a regular basis.
The ”tombola” is just one more piece in the mosaic of things we do to involve the local staff and their families. It seems natural to us, and I’m proud to be part of a company with such an attitude.
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…