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The three communities where we currently work, Termales, Partado and Arusi, are located on the Pacific Coast of Colombia in the Municipality of Nuqui. This is an area that has been heavily affected by the violence and drug trade that have afflicted Colombia in the past decades.
The communities are remote with no access roads and lack many of the basic needs such as clean drinking water, electricity, communications and medical attention. Employment and educational opportunities are limited. Chocó is recognised as the poorest Department in Colombia with an average life expectancy 20 years less than the national average and an infant mortality rate 4 times the national average. Government presence and services are non-existent.
The program began with the objective of providing alternate life opportunities for Afro Colombian youth who were vulnerable to being lured into illegal activities and gangs. Many of the kids in the surf program have witnessed first hand the violence that has plagued this region in the past. The opportunity to share the waves with their friends is the highlight of their week and the basis of their dreams. Whereas before many had no hopes for their future, today all dream of one day becoming Champion surfers.
Surf Classes teach the benefits of physical activity and exercise associated with the art of surfing. The kids in the classes also learn the Foundation’s core values of respect, discipline and tolerance as well as the importance of respecting and caring for the ocean and environment. Though we know that we cannot change every kids future we do know that for a few hours a week we can bring a smile to the face of boys and girls who deserve nothing less.
The objective of the project is to provide training and resources to community youth leaders to support their work in providing weekly surf classes to over 150 Afro Colombian youth on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Of these 150 approximately 50% are girls and 80% are aged between the ages of 4 and 12.
Three surf instructors will travel to Costa Rica to complete their International Surfing Association (ISA) Level 1 Surf Instructor Course, First Aid Course and Lifesaving Course. The first part of the ISA course was completed in October of 2015. Once fully accredited the three trainers will be the first Accredited Surf Instructors in Colombia. Upon return to Colombia they will be responsible for implementing weekly classes in three villages for over 150 youth. The training they receive will equip them to be leaders in their communities and to impart their knowledge to the young surfers of Chocó in a safe and secure environment.
Additionally, with the purchase of a small boat the trainers will be able to travel to nearby villages that are only accessible by boat and take their classes to more young children of Chocó. We aim to increase the number of participants in the program to 500.
A further outcome of the training and purchase of a boat is that this will allow the local surfers to generate income by offering surf related services to tourists. This will include surf lessons, guided tours to surf waves in the area and transport to and from hotels. In an area with no roads or vehicular access a boat is a valuable asset. Not only can it provide a valuable revenue source it is also essential for accessing medical care in the event of an accident or emergency.
Training - Firstly the costs associated with sending three trainers to Costa Rica to complete the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course, First Aid Course and Lifesaving Course. Costs covered include flights, course fees, accommodation and food.
Boat - The second funding objective is for a small motorboat that will provide transport to members of the surf club and the local community. This boat will allow us to take classes to more youth, provide transport in case of an emergency and help generate income for the local community through tourism related activities such as taking tourists to surf various waves in the region.
First Aid - The final funding objective is obtaining a comprehensive first aid kit to place in each of the three villages where classes are currently taught so that classes can continue to be taught in a safe environment. One of the great strengths of this project is that it is community led. Nestor Tello, one of four Directors of the Fundacion Buen Punto, is a native of Termales. Nestor is responsible for implementing all of the Foundation’s activities on the ground. The Foundation’s role has been to provide Nestor and the communities that he works in with all the resources that they need to build sustainable surf clubs that impact as many boys and girls as possible. The success of the project, now in its fourth year, is in large part to this community led focus, which has created a sense of ownership and pride in the communities for what they have achieved for themselves.
In keeping with the focus on community empowerment and leadership it is our objective that one day the project be completely self-sustaining and community managed. The training of the youth leaders and the purchase of a motorboat is a major step in achieving this goal. Local youth will become the owners and leaders of this community led surf school once they are equipped with the skills and knowledge that the training will provide them. The surf classes will also provide a platform for the training and employment of more local young people as instructors that can then take the sport to even more local communities.
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