Changing Lives Through Surfing - Surfers Not Street Children
For the over 25 years, the Surfers Not Street Children team have been changing the lives of vulnerable children in Africa through the power of surfing.
Surfers Not Street Children was founded by Tom Hewitt, a life-long surfer, who was born in the Great Britain and relocated to South Africa in his late teens. Having previously worked ‘in the field’ with street children in Africa, Tom arrived in Durban in 1997 to find there was an intense situation with street children and no coherent strategy to help those most at risk, so he decided to act. Tom created the Durban Street Team (now Surfers Not Street Children) in 1998, which was the first outreach team for street children in the city, many of whom found themselves at risk after fleeing political violence or losing family members to AIDS/HIV.
In its current format, Surfers Not Street Children has been working with vulnerable children and young adults since 2012. Recognizing the intrinsic therapeutic value of surfing, the staff made up of trained professionals and trained former street children, combine learning to surf with mentorship and psychosocial care. The goal is to empower the children it works with to leave the streets behind for good and become independent and self-sustainable, supporting individuals even when they have found employment to ensure that they don't find themselves at risk again.
In Durban, the three main programs that they run to support vulnerable children are the Surf Club, the Surf House and the Independent Living Program.
The Surf Club is both a daily surf club that offers surfing, mentorship and a life-skills curriculum and a drop-in center for street children with an outreach program.
The Surf House is a live-in mentorship program for homeless street youth, designed to lead them from childhood into adulthood - preparing them for independent adult life and helping to find employment opportunities for them in the local area.
The Independent Living Program is for graduates of the Surf House. Over the course of 6 to 9 months, they are assisted to find their own accommodation, the final part of their journey towards self-sustainability.
After proving successful in South Africa there is now a Surf Club in Tofo, near Inhambane in Mozambique. Started in 2018, Tofo Surf Club is based on the Durban model and offers surfing, mentorship and an outreach program. They are hoping to expand to other locations across Africa soon.
Surfers Not Street Children have achieved real success with their programs, transforming the lives of so many young people who would have otherwise would have been on the streets and/or at risk of being exploited. Some children who have been through their programs have even gone on to surf in competitions all across the world such as Ntando Msibi, who escaped life on the streets and now competes in the WSL Qualifying Series.
These achievements have not gone unnoticed - big names in the surf industry and beyond have supported the organization including Jordy Smith, Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Dane Reyolds, Prince Harry and even Pope Francis!
At dryrobe, we are proud to be long-term supporters of this amazing organization and we’re now stoked to announce that we have just launched our first collaboration - a Surfers Not Street Children dryrobe!
Available online, a percentage of each sale of this Limited Edition dryrobe will go towards supporting the incredible work that they do both in South Africa and Mozambique.
Find out more about Surfers Not Street Children and the phenomenal work they do here https://www.surfnotstreets.org/.
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