{TOFO} Rencontre avec l'association Surfers Not Street Children
When we were thinking about our winter trip, Africa was definitely in the Top 3. Between waves, sun, change of scenery, we first looked at South Africa, which we had already visited as a couple 10 years ago . But we quickly remembered Mozambique... A close friend, with whom we were discussing this trip, told us about an association that he supported through his Smile Waves foundation.

A few years ago he met Tom Hewitt, an English expatriate in Durban, South Africa. For over 25 years, he has worked with a team helping township children escape their daily misery through surfing. Many professional surfers support them (and Her Majesty The Queen of England, no less!). They welcomed Jordy Smith, Stephanie Gilmore, and of course, The King Kelly Slater. Everything is said in the name of the association is Surfers not Street Children

In May 2018, the Mozambican branch was created in Tofo, the recognized surf spot.

This new antenna begins thanks to the tenacity of Mini, 20 years old; Born to an Asian father and a Mozambican mother, in Tofo, he left to live in South Africa. An excellent surfer, at the age of 14 he met Tom, founder of the association. Mini's dynamic temperament and ambition to make things happen quickly bond the two friends. At 15, Mini was already working in a surf shop and during his holidays, he volunteered with the association in Durban.

Mini quickly proves itself.

Tom gives him several boards for the kids in his native village, in Mozambique. But the kids, far from knowing how to surf, sell them for a handful of bread... So why not make this equipment available to local kids? Let them also discover the ocean and water sports?

In May 2018, the association opens its doors!

When we arrive in Tofo during our family trip , we discover a great lively surf club. Mini explains to us that the antenna here faces different problems than in Durban. Children are rarely left to their own devices, “we can’t talk about street children here” Mini tells us.
"These are children from families with few means, for whom the escape into drugs and alcohol can come very early. We try to captivate them as early as possible. Our youngest are 8-9 years old."

Accompanied by 3 employees, around fifty children come regularly to enjoy a moment of relaxation and laughter that every child should be able to have.

An appointment is made with Mini, Julia, Jordan and Casto at 2 p.m. to welcome the children. Apprentice surfers can arrive between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Then, the activities continue until 6 p.m. Today, given the high heat and the high tide, it will be English class with Jordan, an American who arrived in Tofo and never left :)
"The region is very touristy. Giving them the opportunity to learn English allows them to have access to jobs in tourism, for example. And thus begin to get them out of the local vicious circle. We want to open their eyes to to the opportunities that can be offered to them, especially thanks to their work."

The girls are few in number. But there is Julia.

Julia is the example that everything is possible. At only 20 years old, Julia is financially independent and one of the only locals in the water. In just 3 years, she was able to impose her passion on those around her and move forward towards a new life.

"It's difficult to get girls to come. In the local culture, girls stay at home, after school, to help with household chores. They have few career prospects other than housekeeper or cook. Julia is a excellent example for these young girls!” The social bond of the association is very important.

As soon as a new child arrives, the team contacts the parents and the school. "School attendance is one of the obligations that we explain to young people. In Mozambique, school is compulsory and free. But sometimes, around the age of 13-14, they are influenced in the bigger and it gets out of control. We are careful to ensure that this does not happen to our surfers. After 1 hour of English, Damien presents the job of shaper and how a board is made. The session is epic between Damien's fully mastered "Portugnol" and the anglicisms linked to the practice. Thanks to Mini for the translations ;)

Then, it's off to the beach with a soccer ball, boards, etc. The tide is still too high, but given the heat, we head straight for a splash.

The association also helps children learn about the ocean and its dangers. This can encourage them to discover new jobs related to the sea.

All in a circle, Téo and Noa take part in the freediving and bodysurfing course led by Casto, a professional lifeguard and local, and Julia. After all that, despite the onshore wind, we go to share a few bits with Casto and several children . We quickly realize the joy that this sport can give them, this feeling of freedom (which we would perhaps tend to forget in our 100% time lives).

Téo and Noa are having a blast, learning just as much alongside them. After a few days at their side, we realize the place that the 4 members of the association have taken in the lives of their kids. A role of big brother and big sister, there for the good times and the bad times.
"They don't know anything about the surf business, the stars,... When Kelly Slater came to surf with them, they were just happy to surf. That's all. And that's ultimately our greatest reward, to see them happy ."

If you want to support them, and/or if you take a trip to Tofo, you can bring them school materials, surfsuits...

You can discover the many actions on their website and their Instagram.

Thank you Tom, Mini, Julia, Jordan, Casto and the children for their warm welcome!

See you soon!