Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the first post-apartheid elections in South Africa. As part of its continuing efforts to effect change amongst Oceanside townships in the Western Cape, local township residents spent the day at the shore with at-risk youth. Participants stormed the beach for a friendly surfing competition sponsored by local social responsibility non-profit Waves for Change.
In Masiphumelele and nearby Monwabisi Beach, Khayelitsha Township youth unemployment is greater than 60 percent, HIV infection is greater than 25 percent and the average family income is under $100 per month. These conditions have led to a natural decline into gang crime, narcotics proliferation and physical and sexual abuse.
It is here that Waves for Change inserted itself in August 2011 by introducing a previously non-existent surf culture to these two communities desperately in need of a structured and safe distraction from the ugliness and neglect surrounding local youth. The non-profit created beachside safe hubs, training local community members to recruit and engage high-risk kids in informal surf schools. Recently, the organization was able to introduce an education incentive program, offering a full meal each day to students who visit the outreach center and continue onto to class before hopping on their boards.
So, in celebration of a nation's freedom from violence, roughly 100 kids involved in Waves for Change programs took to the sea to escape their own modern-day victimization. By day's end, each participant would leave with an ASP medal and trophy, a Waves for Change t-shirt, and a full belly.