Transforming Lives Through Surfing and Mentorship

Who is Tom Hewitt?

  • About Tom

Tom Hewitt MBE is committed to a ”global popular movement around the rights and potential of street children.” He is a campaigner who has worked “in the field” with street children in Africa for over 22 years. He and his wife, Bulelwa, founded Umthombo Street Children in Durban, South Africa in 2004. It grew out of the Durban Street Team, that Tom had started in 1998. Tom was CEO of Umthombo between 2004 and 2012 when he handed over the reigns to a local South African social worker. In January 2011 Tom was awarded and MBE by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II for his services to street children in Africa. In 2012 Tom founded Surfers Not Street Children in Durban, South Africa and in 2015 founded Freedom Tree UK to support his work with street children.

Tom is perhaps most well known for his successful advocacy campaign to end the forced removals (round-ups) of street children in Durban, South Africa, which used to take place to “clean-up” the streets ahead of international conferences and events. He called for more compassionate responses to street children based on psychosocial care. He is also well known for his model of fusing surfing both psychosocial care as a tool in models for empowering street children Tom assisted the national Department of Social Development in South Africa with its development of new policies around working with street children there. He has also visited (and in some cases worked with) street children programs in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia. Uganda, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, Peru and Brazil.

Tom was born in the UK, moved to South Africa when he was twenty and studied undergraduate politics for four years at the University of San Francisco, California, USA where he graduated with a BA Major in Politics (Summa Cum Laude), a Minor in Peace and Justice studies and with eight University awards.

Tom is also a life-long shortboard surfer as well as sponsored Stand Up Padle-board wave rider (he rides for F-One SUP’s and Overboard Waterproofs).