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South Africa's street kids get new access to a life of surfing

Nando Msibi © Alan Van Gysen



Surf Culture

Island Style teams up with Surfers Not Street Children

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 29 January, 2016 - The nationwide phenomenon of street children is something South Africans are all too familiar with. And so, when a 16-year old street boy, who has lived life on Durban’s streets from adolescence, chooses to leave street life to become a professional surfer, the eyes, ears and hearts of Durban’s surf industry perk up to be a part of this incredible story.

This is the story of Ntando Msibi, a teenage boy who has had his life change through the guidance and teachings of a particular Tom Hewitt, the founder of Durban-based organisation Surfers Not Street Children (SNSC). This is the story of how South African born-and-bred surf apparel brand Island Style got on board with Hewitt’s visionary quest in taking homeless children off of the streets and onto surf boards.

On 28 August 2015 Island Style Founder Warren Wareing and shareholder Shaun Thompson was proud to meet with Hewitt, Msibi and two other former street children-turned-surfers, Vukani Mhluzi and Sfiso Mhlongo to officially sign the three surfers as sponsored Island Style team riders.

Thompson who too has been a surfer since teenagehood, speaks of what brought Island Style and SNSC together: ”The Aloha spirit that most surfers have is a key ingredient to our new relationship with SNSC. But equally important is that the three of us, as individuals, love the ocean and it’s the stoke of paddling out that binds us together.”

“Surfers Not Street Children does three things,” says Tom, “It empowers youngsters who have lived on the streets through the transition from childhood into adulthood by ensuring they’re independent, employed and have a future.

We are also an advocacy organisation or surfing team that uses their stories to change the perception of street children not only in South Africa but around the world. And thirdly, as a team of ambassadors, we inspire other kids who are perhaps still on the streets to see their own potential and to recognize opportunities around them,” states Hewitt.

Founded in 2012, Hewitt began Surfers Not Street Children with over 15 years experience in working with street children. Fusing surfing, mentorship and psychosocial counseling to deal with the traumas and habits of street life, Hewitt has been largely successful in bringing about large-scale change to a select group of young men.

Surfers Not Street Children, Island Style, South Africa, Team, Culture
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