In 2012, stories of the unregulated freedom and natural beauty of the relatively unknown Sumba Island in Indonesia reached Christopher Burch, who was told that the founder of a small surf camp there was looking for help to expand.  Four years, 33 villas, and thousands of coconuts later, the Nihiwatu resort has become an award-winning travel destination of global attention.

Maintaining its deep-rooted philosophy, and through the generosity of Burch, a portion of Nihiwatu’s profits are now repatriated into the Sumba Foundation that was established by the resort’s original owner in 2001. The Foundation’s aim is to provide humanitarian aid by fostering community-based projects that impact health (including medical access and malaria control), nutrition, education, water and income-generation, while preserving and respecting the culture and traditions of the Sumbanese people.

With the enthusiastic support of hotel guests, Nihiwatu has become a philanthropic vehicle dedicated to supporting the Sumba Foundation’s projects. During their stay, guests are introduced to the Foundation’s efforts through an impactful presentation and short film, and during cultural immersion experiences on the island.  Guests are also welcome to join the Sumba Foundation team for volunteer projects.  Imagine being greeted by hundreds of smiling schoolchildren as they sing “Da!”, their native hello, as you arrive at school to serve a hearty lunch of rice and vegetables, or hand out books and crayons, or pass them during a hike on their way home from school.

Many guests subsequently become benefactors to the Foundation. The result is a rare collaboration between a resort and its local community that today co-exist with compelling interdependence: the resort has become the biggest employer on the island and the Sumba Foundation gives back to the local communities.

Over the last fourteen years, the Foundation has set up over 15 primary schools, built 48 water wells and 5 medical clinics, supplied 172 villages with clean water and reduced Malaria by 85% in affected villages.

Since pictures say one thousand words, we continue to update this page with images of the extraordinary progress of Sumba Island led by the Foundation, and the magic of Nihiwatu.

For more information about the Sumba Foundation please visit

NYU Langone Patient-Centered Care Curriculum
Established to optimize Physician-Patient Communication and Patient Experience

It has been Christopher Burch’s passion to champion projects that encourage empathy, compassion, and caring.  In 2014, a visit with Dr. Mark B. Pochapin, director of the division of Gastroenterology at NYU Langone led to the discussion of patient care.  Specifically, the responsibility of physicians and other hospital staff to employ an empathetic interaction as part of the the entire patient experience. With patient-centered care a key component of NYU Langone’s clinical mission, providing physicians with educational training in and resources for practicing the art of medicine is as important as training them in the science of medicine.

This shared outlook, along with support from Burch, resulted in the Patient-Centered Care Curriculum for NYU Langone faculty. Dr. Pochapin and fellow colleagues Elizabeth H. Weinshel, MD and Sophie M. Balzora, MD, together developed the program.  The curriculum consists of a number of educational activities, including lectures, roundtables, and educational objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) simulation sessions. One OSCE session, for example, was structured as part of an IRB study protocol and was designed such that faculty interacted with actors as “standardized patients” in challenging clinical scenarios such as having to tell a patient she had colon cancer or needing to explain a procedure-related complication. The physicians not only received feedback from the trained “patients,” but also were able to review and evaluate their own performance privately, via videotape. Preliminary study results indicated that participants found the exercise beneficial for their clinical practice skills and also pointed to areas in need of further faculty development.

Dr. Pochapin was among the first faculty members to go through the exercise: “Reviewing my clinical performance was a powerful experience for me,” said Dr. Pochapin. “After 20 years of practicing medicine, this was the first time I had ever seen myself from the perspective of the patient.”

For more information about the NYU Langone Patient-Centered Care program visit http://nyulangone.org