- Empowering former street children
What is Surfers Not Street Children?
Surfers Not Street Children is a unique mentorship project based in Durban, South Africa that empowers former street children as they move from childhood into adulthood, journeying with them towards their own independence. The youngsters, most of whom were orphans and all of whom have had to deal with the realities and trauma of having lived on the streets as children, are transitioning their lives through the Surfers Not Street Children model of fusing a passion for surfing with mentorship and psychosocial support.
What sets the organization apart is that the youngsters in the team are committed to ensuring that other children don’t have to suffer the way that they did. The team engages in activities to inspire and encourage street children and other at risk children through sharing their own life stories, demonstrating their high level of surfing, and their charisma. The team aims to remind these children of their potential and help them to see local available opportunities to transform their lives.
Surfers Not Street Children‘s team of former street children and its founder/Director Tom Hewitt MBE also engage in advocacy focusing on the plight of, and rights of street children around the world. The team are passionate about being a springboard towards a popular global movement around street children and highlighting and leading key campaigns that will change the lives of street children globally.
The Surfhouse is the Surfers Not Street Children head quarters and home to the team. Situated in downtown, Durban and ten minutes from the beach it is an ideal home and empowerment hub for this team of ex street children who are now surf groms and transforming their lives. The Surfhouse is also where the youngsters access the array of programmes that Surfers Not Street Children offers such as mentorship, education, life-skills, addiction counseling, counseling, vocational training, access to internships and job creation.
The Surfhouse is run by Vukani Mhluzi (Operations Manager), who is an experienced child and youth-care worker and who was a street child himself in the early 1990’s. Vukani, who is also a surfer, has worked with street children alongside Tom Hewitt for more than eight years and has a diploma in financial management.
There have historically been far fewer girls on the streets of Durban, although for those who do live on the streets life can be catastrophic. Surfers Not Street Children works with both boys and girls although at present it is only guys at the Surfhouse. The Girls Ambassador team is a group if female volunteers that are committed to the plight of girls on the streets. This team meets regularly with the Surfhouse crew with a view to ensuring that girls have access to surfing prorgammes and other services in the city. The team is led by local volunteer, Sfezzie Khubeka.