Catching up with Tom Hewitt from Surfers Not Street Children.


Earlier this year the Positive Vibe Warrior Foundation had the honor and privilege of heading down to Cape Town, South Africa, to hand off the over 700 surfboards, fins, wetsuits and gear you were all kind and generous enough to donate to our “Can’t Steal Our Vibes” surfboard drive. We were fortunate enough to team up with Tom Hewitt MBE and his organization, Surfers Not Street Children.

To say Tom’s the man is an understatement. The Queen of England awarded him the Order of the British Empire a few years back, so yeah, he’s pretty legit. He’s doing amazing work in South Africa helping street kids improve their lives and find a new path, largely using surfing as a motivating force for good. It’s epic!

Since you were all so supportive of the surfboard drive, we thought you might like to know a little more about how and where the boards are going. We recently peppered Tom with a few questions. Here’s the scoop…

“We specifically work with street children and children at risk of street connectedness,” says Tom. “We have outreach teams that identify children on the streets and children at risk. In this way we are very different from other surf/development programs as we really are specifically targeting homeless street children. A huge phenomenon in Africa. They are some of the most traumatized and abused children in the country.” 

When it comes to Surfers Not Street Children’s distribution process for the boards, “we have four aspects to or work and the boards will be distributed across these,” says Tom.

“The Surf Club is a drop-in center based at Durban’s premier surf spot, the New Pier. Over 100 children access this in a month,” explains Tom. “This is for children who are either street children or living at great risk of street connectedness. The project is run by our head social worker and has a team of carers, lifeguards and surf coaches. The center offers mentorship and interventions into the children’s lives. The boards from the PVW are available for kids to use, but they are returned at the end of the day. Some of the kids are advanced surfers. They are ‘given’ a board that suits heir surfing ability. The board stays at our surf club over night. About 25 have now been distributed in the Surf Club. We will introduce around another 50 over the next few weeks.”
“The Surfhouse is our live-in residential facility,” continues Tom. “The kids are assigned a board each. Obviously, to be in this program they are pretty committed to serious change in their lives and and are further along the road in our programs. These guys all rip so they get boards that suit their surfing! About 15 boards have been distributed here.” 

“The Independent Living Program is for young adults that have been through our programs and are now independent. We help them source accommodation and have already ensured hat they have stable jobs. Each of the you g adults in this program has been given a board.”

Finally, the surplus of surfboards has allowed Surfers Not Street Children to expand their horizons, looking beyond just the South African border.

“Mozambique—this is our new project,” says Tom. “We will take around 50 boards up to Mozambique to distribute with the kids there.”

As far as when all 700-plus boards with finally reach their final homes, Tom’s making the most of this tremendous, life-altering resource.

“The boards will be distributed over the next few weeks, but we will also keep some for when we need them later in the year,” he says. “The boards are like gold dust for us, so we will bring them in on a need basis. This incredible donation will keep us stocked up for a good long while!”

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