I recently had the incredible opportunity to travel to Tofo Beach and visit the heartwarming surfers not street childrenMozambique program. Among my various motivations for this trip, one was to personally witness the differences and similarities between this program and the one in Durban. I wanted to see if the program’s claims of changing kids’ lives were as impactful as they sounded. I also wanted to spend some time with the kids and do whatever was possible on my side to help the ones in need.
Upon arriving, I had the pleasure of meeting the dedicated staff members, Julia and Castro. They are truly remarkable individuals who pour their hearts into helping the kids. Their commitment to maintaining a balance between providing help, security, and enjoyment for the children was truly inspiring. Minicho, the director, is one of the most kindhearted people I have ever met. His story of overcoming a difficult childhood and his persistent drive to uplift everyone around him left a lasting impression on me. Mini is a great director who is passionate about his job and someone who will always be happy to help. His positivity has an incredible impact for both the kids and the entire community. He is also Mozambique’s first ever professional surfer which makes him a great role model for the kids.
The program’s emphasis on education is another positive point. The kids who come to the program daily have to attend school. Furthermore, surfers not street children also offer assistance for essentials such as books and uniforms. Being part of the program ensures that school attendance remains a priority.
After school, the kids gather at the surf house, where they enjoy a healthy juice before heading to the beach for football and surfing. It may seem like a routine, but there’s something special about their journey through the local market. Walking in a straight line they carry a sense of pride, proudly displaying their positive transformation to all who witness. It’s a powerful display of the way they take care of themselves and the direction their lives are taking.
From my perspective, the program is undeniably impactful. Surfing creates a passion and drive that keeps them on the right path. Following a day of waves and excitement, the kids return home tired, avoiding the temptations of Tofo’s nightlife, drugs and alcohol which can lead to some trouble. The program serves as a protective shield, guiding them away from the negative influences that might otherwise pull them down.
Another remarkable feature of the program is the growing sense of empowerment among the girls who participate. Initially met with resistance from parents who believed their daughters should remain at home to fulfill traditional roles, the girls are now thriving in the program. It has provided them with not only skills but also the means to avoid teenage pregnancy, showcasing the program’s far-reaching impact. Julia is also a great role figure for the girls as she is the first ever female Mozambican surfer.
In summary, the Mozambique program at Tofo Beach is nothing short of amazing. The people involved, the kids who benefit, and many more collectively contribute to a positive transformation that spreads out throughout the community. Minicho’s leadership and personal journey are not only aspirational for the kids but also for the entire village. He stands as a living testament to what can be achieved, having become Mozambique’s first-ever professional surfer.
As I reflect on my visit, I can’t help but feel excitement for the future. The program’s effects will keep spreading positivity and making a difference for many years.
Max Pelka – September 2023