Charles Darwin Foundation Receives Leadership Gift to Tackle COVID-19 in Galapagos

Donation made possible by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad arriving at the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.

-- Press Release -- The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) received on Monday, August 24th, 2020, vital laboratory equipment for the islands, made possible by a generous donation by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Community Relief Fund.

Launched in March, the Galapagos Community Relief Fund is managed and supervised by members of the CDF Board of Directors and Executive Direction, who work closely with the Municipality of Santa Cruz, the Galapagos Government Council, and the local Emergency Operations Committee to learn about the requirements of the health system and the Galapagos community, and thus coordinate joint actions. 

Equipment donated by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.
Equipment donated by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos. Photo by: ABG.
Equipment donated by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.
Equipment donated by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos. Photo by: ABG.

“The response internationally and locally has been terrific,” said committee chair and board member Gabriela Sommerfeld.“ Thanks to the $50,000 generously donated by longtime friends of Galapagos, Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad, we have added to the health system of the islands. The laboratory equipment (a thermocycler) will enable the authorities to continue its impressive program of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing—allowing Galapagos to reopen safely and safeguarding the health of its residents. Thanks to this donation, we were also to send to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG) responsible for testing more than 650 600 PCR test kits.

Equipment donated by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.
Equipment donated by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos. Photo by: ABG.

Sommerfeld went on to state, “From the inception, we knew that the aid should not only be to mitigate the immediate needs, but it was also vital to support with equipment that helps beyond the pandemic for a real support in the health system of the inhabitants in the Galapagos Islands.”

Sven and Kristin are leading conservationists who have travelled the world, exploring the ocean, and working to protect it for future generations. "This is a sign of the love and appreciation we have for the Galapagos Islands and its community”, said Kristin.

Equipment donated by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.
Equipment donated by Kristin Hettermann and Sven Lindblad to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos. Photo by: ABG.

ABG Director Dr. Marilyn Cruz said: “We would like to extend our thanks to the Charles Darwin Foundation and its donors for the interest and commitment they have continued to provide since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, to the Galapagos community. We received equipment and reagents that will be used for processing real-time PCR samples. With the donation of a Thermocycler and 600 reagents for sample analysis in the ABG LABGAL Laboratory, generously funded by Ms. Kristin Hettermann and Mr. Sven Lindblad, we will be able to increase our diagnostic capabilities. The donated equipment will now be dedicated exclusively to the topic COVID19, later it will be used for scientific research. Together with CDF, we are continuing with strategic alliances that allow us to serve the community and the environment. Together we will succeed in moving forward.”

Thanks to the funds raised so far, almost $120,000 to date, the Foundation has also donated two ventilators to the Republic of Ecuador Hospital in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, and has delivered medicines for people with special needs. In addition, CDF donated protective gear to the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency, whose staff carry out COVID-19 sample analysis. Furthermore, CDF has provided a biosecurity chamber for sample analysis and its institutional vehicle for the distribution of supplies. The staff of the Charles Darwin Foundation donated $5.870, showing their commitment to the community where CDF has operated for more than 60 years.

María José Barragán, CDF interim director, noted: "CDF staff, concerned about the economic crisis in our community, have voluntarily decided to contribute a donation of their salary to provide food for Galapagos residents who are currently stranded on the Ecuadorian mainland and unable to return to their homes on the islands”.

Governor of Galapagos, Norman Wray, wrote in a letter to the Foundation: “We have made great progress already, and additional support will allow us to precisely determine what the COVID-19 situation is in the islands. By doing so, we can take care of Galapagos as a destination: a safe and healthy destination. Your donations of real-time PCR tests and testing equipment will thus not only allow us to tackle the health emergency at hand, but also create the safety framework that will allow us to look to the future and continue the process of reactivating tourism to the Galapagos. We aim to brand Galapagos as a safe zone, a safe territory that has the capacity to continually monitor the COVID-19 situation and respond quickly and efficiently to any further threat.”

Those interested in donating to the campaign can visit the CDF´s website: https://www.darwinfoundation.org/en/donate/?form=FUNWUSYWWDO


About Kristin Hettermann

Kristin Hettermann is recognized for her underwater and adventure travel photography and creating awareness for important environmental and social causes. Based between Maui and Manhattan, her work and travels have taken her on adventures around the world with a keen eye toward ocean conservation and distant cultures. Kristin contributes to publications including Scientific American, Newsweek and Virgin and is an ambassador to Oceanic Global and Beneath the Waves. Kristin supports valuable projects, causes, and initiatives through visual and literary storytelling.
More information about Kristin can be found on her website: OCEANSCAPES

About Sven Lindblad

Sven Lindblad is CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, an innovative travel company that has a strategic alliance with National Geographic to combine global exploration with the goal of inspiring the world through expedition travel.. . For his contributions to Galapagos, Sven has been named an honorary member of the General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation. The travelers Lindblad welcomes aboard ship in Galapagos have donated nearly $9.3 million since 1997 to support local conservation priorities. The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund, founded by Sven Lindblad in 2008, in conjunction with the National Geographic Society, currently supports four Galapagos organizations, including the Charles Darwin Foundation. For more about the LEX-NG Fund, please see the Impact Report.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Chaussée de la Hulpe 177 Bte 20 (rez) - 1170, Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

© 2020 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.