08/24/18

The Golden Rule for a better society

Kayak4Conservation, a social project co-founded by RAMPF employee Tertius Kammeyer, is inspiring people all around the globe for its focus on creating a better, eco-friendly future. At the center of its success stands a maxim that is as simple as it is effective – treating others as one would wish to be treated.

Dear reader, please close your eyes and envisage a dense, luscious green jungle, dazzling feathered birds, gleaming white sand beaches, and a teal blue ocean with beautiful coral reefs beneath its surface.

And now imagine paddling silently across these waters, in between a plethora of small islands and fringing reefs, stopping now and then to relax on one of the countless beaches. There is just you and nature …

“Yes, it’s that good”, says Tertius Kammeyer with a sparkle in his eyes. And he should know, having spent six years on Raja Ampat, an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands in
Indonesia’s West Papua province.

Sustainable and eco-friendly sources of income

For those readers who at this moment are starting to have doubts about wanting to read an article about a man taking an insolently long holiday in paradise, please stay with us. Because Tertius Kammeyer certainly did not spend his time lying in the sun.

Together with his partner Max Ammer, he co-founded the social eco-tourism project Kayak4Conservation in 2012, offering kayak tours and accommodation for tourists in the region.

“We see this as community development program, as we employ local men as guides and work together with locally-owned guesthouses. This way, income is generated in sustainable, ecofriendly ways as opposed to shark finning, bird poaching, or logging”, explains Tertius Kammeyer.

Providing a source of income is all the more important in view of a poverty rate of more than 25% in West Papua. Consequently, the locals are also taught how to build the fiber-glass kayaks that are used. Having started out with four plastic kayaks, the fleet has now grown to eleven single and four double kayaks, hand-lain in fiberglass, in molds donated by Kaskazi Kayaks in South Africa.

Striving for a Better Future

According to Tertius, the so-called Golden Rule was the biggest inspiration for him to follow when founding the organization. “It postulates that one should treat others as one would wish to be treated by them. This basic notion not only defines the way tourists should interact with the locals, but also shines a light on how we, as humans, should live in harmony with our irreplaceable planet.”

Pointing out that the most rewarding result of the project was seeing children no longer having to work fields for food, Kayak4Conservation persistently strives for a better future for the island and those who coincide in it.

In my mind, I feel that we always strive to better the future. We plan and work towards something, to make it better – whether that is with regard to society, to the environment, or to new products. This itself is a process of discovery.

Tertius Kammeyer

After his time at Kayak4Conservation, he continues to look for opportunities to support similar projects. He mentions a small canoe building incentive in Botswana or Malawi, where the locals cut down trees to make canoes for fishing. “By building a fiberglass canoe that outlasts a wooden one we can preserve trees and teach people a valuable hands-on skill.”