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African Streets, African Dreams

The Gudauskas brothers and Surfers Not Street Children begin passing out 700 boards.

news // Feb 3, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

There’s a photo I haven’t been able to get out of my head for a few days. 

A South African not-for-profit organization, Surfers Not Street Children, posted the photo this week. It’s not a surf photo; it’s not a shot of young kids smiling at the beach; it’s heartbreaking. The photo depicts a shoeless teenager asleep on a sidewalk, surrounded by trash and squalor. Above him stands a man, angel-like in stance. 

“Sandile engaging in street outreach,” reads the caption. “This youngster has asked Sandile to take him surfing. Sandile has returned to wake him and so the process that could change his life begins.”

It’s the power of surfing in action and it has nothing to do with pulling into a big pit, inverted airs or any of that other “fun” stuff we needlessly default to. It’s raw, pure, real, and it’s inspiring to think that a few waves that most would take for granted could be so completely transformative to another.

“Regular supporters of ours will know that we focus our social media feeds on the positives about the children we serve. However, occasionally we throw in the gritty reality of our work and why we are so motivated,” continues the post.

“Sandile is a surf coach but he is also a child and youth-care worker. He goes into the downtown area of the Durban streets, the notorious Point area to identify and develop a friendship with street children. He does this with his team, under the guidance of and with our social worker, S’lindile. We are unashamedly about surfing. But more importantly we believe surfing can play a key part in empowering youngsters like this one to leave street life and towards a life of hope, independence and sustainability.”

A few hours before I happened upon the post on Instagram, I had received a call from Tom Gudauskas, the G-Boys always-inspiring father. 

“The boys are leaving tonight for Cape Town,” he said, the pride in his voice reverberating like an old Fender tube amp.

Towards the end of last year, Dane, Pat and Tanner rallied their Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation for their “Can’t Steal Our Vibe” surfboard fundraiser. They teamed up with South Africa’s most accomplished black surfer, Michael February, as well as Surfers Not Street Children and Waves for Change. Our humble little surf tribe heard their calling. Boards came in by the truckload. The Gudangs were able fill a 40-foot Matson container with over 700 boards, put it on a cargo ship and send it off to Cape Town.

The boards arrived at the start of the new year. This week the brothers are landing in the country to begin the process of distributing the boards and stoking out a lot of kids. 

All of this is happening the same time that the news is reporting a ‘worst-in-a-hundred-year drought’ in Cape Town. These reports indicate that unless some miracle deluge arrives from the  African skies sometime soon, the city will be out of water by April. Think of that for a second, a city of over 400,000 people, completely without water. 

Despite this, Dane, Pat and Tanner currently have their boots and are armed with over 700 surfboards. They’ve teamed up with a couple of amazing organizations (it was only a couple of weeks ago that England’s, Prince Harry hung on the beach with Surfers Not Street Children)

Even the grandson of The Endless Summer star, Terrance of Africa, has signed on to help film and document the trip. 

Surfing may not be able to save the world, but in these crazy days where kids endure crippling poverty and the planet does its damnedest to rid itself of the human scourge, the positive vibes of a few wave-riders can go a remarkably long way.

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