Caught In a tide of poverty and disillusionment, it takes enormous courage to turn around and ride the wave of transformation. The current of social and economic injustices continues to suck children out into the depths of substance addiction, begging for bread and petty crime. As they sink deeper and deeper into hopelessness, could it be that maybe, just maybe, a pair of eyes are scanning the horizon for a flailing hand, a weary beckoning for help?Surfers Not Street Children is a Durban-based mentorship program, designed to not only
rescue children from the depths of despair, but to teach them to swim both figuratively and literally. Surfers, Not Street Children empowers ex-street children, as they paddle out towards adulthood. The team of former street children who are now top surfers, are not only committed to the continuation of their personal transformations but serve as ambassadors and role models for other kids still on the streets. They also represent the voice of thestreet child.
Surfers Not Street Childrencomprises two main projects:
Serving as the SNSC base and the home to a group of former street children who were orphans with nowhere else to go. It’s mentorship program that journeys with them as they transition from children to adults ensuring that they have the social skills and opportunities needed to move forward in life. It has an active job creation component which
has seen its youngsters working as coffee baristas, lifeguards, surf coaches, surf shop sales workers and one has even become a professional surfer!
THE SURF CLUB (NEW PIER, DURBAN)
Surf Club is a daytime outreach programme to street children and other vulnerable children and youth that fuses surfing with a life-skills curriculum. There are currently90 girls and boys in the program which has a morning session (which tends to be more for street children) and an after school session. It is based right behindCalifornia Dreaming, on the beach at Durbans premier surf-break, New Pier. SurfClub is run by award-winning surf coach and surfing contest judge, Sandile Mqadi.
Surfers Not Street Children has some well-known supporters in the surfing world such as Jordy Smith (SA), Dane Reynolds (US) and Sebastian Williams (SA/Mexico).
Instagram and Twitter: @tomhewittmbe
Facebook: Surfers Not Street Children
SNSC Instagram: @surfersnotstreetchildren
Tom Hewitt MBE has worked with street children in Africa for over two decades. He and his wife, Bulelwa, founded Umthombo StreetChildren in Durban, in 2004. It grew out of the Durban Street Team that Tom had started in 1998. Tom served as CEO of Umthombo from 2004 to 2012, when he handed over the reins to a local 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, and in2015 founded Freedom Tree UK to support his work with street children. 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 lifelong shortboard surfer as well as sponsored StandUp Paddleboard wave rider.