Buy One Give One: Surfers Not Street Children Q&A
This month we're working with three different charities to donate a pair of socks, for each pair of socks purchased on stance.eu.com
This week's charity of choice is South African based organisation Surfers Not Street Children whose model fuses surfing, mentorship and care. The Organisation has dedicated local teams that include social workers, carers, lifeguards, surf coaches and administrators. Many children empowered by Surfers Not Street Children have transformed their lives. Some have gone from ‘street children' to becoming coffee baristas, lifesavers, surf shop staff, restauranteurs, surf coaches and even pro surfers. We caught up with Tom Hewitt MBE, Founder & Global CEO on what the charity is doing to help the children off the streets, and what the Buy One Give One initiative will do to support.
Above: Tom Hewitt MBE, Founder & Global CEO
What is Surfers Not Street Children?
Surfers Not Street Children is a South African organisation based in Durban that empowers homeless street children and children at risk of street-connectedness through fusing surfing, mentorship and care. It’s goal is to enable the children become self supportive and self sustainable in their adult lives. It is also based in Tofo, Mozambique too where it works with children from the local villages living in situations of poverty and the effects of tourism.
How did it start?
In 1998 I started a team of ‘outreach workers’ that would identify homeless children, develop a relationship of trust and look at ways they could assist them. This team was called the Durban Street Team. Over the years it professionalized and developed it’s response and in 2012 it was renamed Surfers Not Street Children!
Who is part of the team and what is it that each of you do?
The team consists of social workers and child care workers working directly with the children alongside a water safety team (lifeguards) and surf coaches with the support of an administrative team.
What is your mission?
To ensure that no child has to live in the streets.
What are the main aims for the organisation?
For homeless street children it is a way of empowering them to transform their lives and overcome the trauma and often addiction associated with their lives. For children at risk of street connectedness it is a diversion program ensuring that they don’t fall into street life.
Surfing, Mentorship & Care make up the foundations of what you do, can you tell us a little more about each of those areas and what it is the organisation offers for children?
Yes, that is our model. Surfing is therapeutic in itself and a fantastic hook to our programs. However when put with daily mentorship through our team and an array of programs as well as counselling and other care work from our social worker it can be life transformative.
What is it about Surfing that the children you work with love so much?
We think that surfing is extraordinary due to the rush of having to ‘live in the moment’ entirely whilst riding a wave. It makes you want to Caine back again and again. The children absolutely love it and getting better at surfing brings a great sense of self mastery with lots of life metaphors. Surfing a ski gives the children a chance to get good at and be part of a sport/pastime that has great dignity and offers a sense of belonging.
With the Pandemic affecting the world over the past year and a half, what’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced within the organisation?
The biggest challenge we have had is that the financial aspect of the pandemic has meant that the meagre income that some of the parents of the kids we work which comes from the informal sector has been badly affected. We have had to stretch our nutrition program to 200 children (previously it was for 50 children). The cost of this alongside the fact that prices have gone up and fundraising is tough at these times creates challenges.
What plans do you have for the next few years?
We want to really make sure that we are able to continue to step up our programs to meet the needs of the children in both Durban and Mozambique at this time. Especially in light of the pandemic and what is hopefully the post-pandemic period.
What’s been the most rewarding part of starting Surfers Not Street children?
Seeing some of the children going on to become lifeguards, surf coaches, coffee baristas, surf shop staff, restaurant staff and many other areas have been highlights.
Also ex street child Ntando Msibi who is now 24 and a sponsored free surfer and full-time surf shop worker was a pro junior surfer and finished 17th in the world at the World Junior Surfing Games in California. He also represented South Africa at the same games the year before in Ecuador.
How can people help support the organisation?
We have a campaign running to support our response to the Covid era pressures on the children we serve. Becoming one of our army of small givers through a monthly standing order is a great way of supporting us. Once-off donations are also gladly received and very useful!
How will the ‘Buy one to Give one’ initiative with Stance benefit the children you’re working with?
Between South Africa and Mozambique we work with over 200 children and their families. Ensuring that they are equipped with nutrition and clothing is central to what we do and runs alongside the care work. This will help greatly as we step this up to meet the extra need that the pandemic has heaped on an already bad situation. Thanks so much for this opportunity of partnership.
Where can people find out more information about what it is you’re doing?
Where can people follow your journey a little more closely?
On our website you can sign up for our newsletter to keep in touch with latest events and developments .