Isiqalo‘s Waves for Change is dedicated to educating and training youth in South Africa using surfing as a model for life. One of the primary goals is to encourage HIV awareness and testing.
I contacted the director, Tim, about volunteering while in Cape Town. Although I was slightly self-conscious about the “voluntourism” thing, it seemed like an opportunity to learn and possibly contribute to a place I was visiting. I imagined myself going for a surf with a bunch of frothing groms and pushing them into waves but the timing didn’t work out for that. Instead, I met up with the crew for lessons in ding repair.
The man doing the repairs and teaching said that he had only surfed 4 or 5 times. He was too busy working to go out surfing and when he had his one day off a week, he was usually too tired.
Being self sufficient as well as learning a potential job skill were the themes of the day. While the resin cured we conversed about surfing, the program and the problems these kids are already faced with at such an early age.
During the ride back to Masiphumelele, a boy about 12 or 13 years old told me about kids he knew that were addicted to the drug tic. It’s hard to imagine how drugs could get any more toxic but tic was described to me as dirty meth. He couldn’t even have these friends in his house because they would steal from him the moment he took his eyes off of them.
As we rode through the township, I tried to take in as much as possible. We were joined by a family in need of a ride. They were in their Sunday best and traveling out of town for a funeral. Looking out of the window, a dead chicken had fallen by the side of the street. A woman stood a few feet behind, knife in hand. Two other chickens walked around calmly, oblivious. Kids approached the van, chatting and asking for sodas. We dropped one or some of the boys off at a home for kids with very green grass, said our goodbyes and continued on to the train station where I departed.
Recently, for World Aids Day, Waves for Change was visited by Desmond Tutu where the kids demonstrated the lessons and exercises they have learned through the program.
Footage of South Africa shot on Ektachrome Super 8. Animals, surfing, and scenery.
I had to save up all year to go on this trip to South Africa and it was made possible by many friends. Glad to go and glad to be home.
There should be many photos. I took a Pentax K1000 with 50 mm lens, a Eumig super 8 camera, and a grumpy old point and shoot digital camera. I’m doing some surf related entries over at the Surf Station.
Here is the first one:
1st days in the bay
July 29, 2011
My introduction to the Indian ocean is small and cold.
I’m staying with friends of a friend, Tanja and Deon, who live across the street from Supertubes. Deon and the dogs get up before the sunrise. We have coffee and a surf check. He shows me where the gullies for entries and exits at Supers are. Knowing these places, he says, are no guarantees that you will get in or out safely. He’s seen the pros blow it many times and having lived there over 15 years, he warns that even he still occasionally gets his timing wrong.
The waves are tiny and breaking right on the rocks. I’m not in a rush to get out there. I go to yoga with Tanja and spend the afternoon walking the length of the bay, studying its angles and rock formations.
When Deon gets home from work he insists we get in the ocean. We take out some dusty longboards to Point. The longboard I borrow is a thruster and I must wear a leash. I can’t help but attempt a few nose rides and the thruster set up faithfully spins out every time. I absolutely love it. People expect to go to Jbay and surf overhead grinders and here I am goofing around in thigh high peelers. It’s almost blasphemy. After a week in South Africa, I’m thankful to be in the ocean and cruising down some fun little lines…away from the hectic aspects of Cape Town and trading out the sounds of honking horns for a multitude of bird calls.