Waves For Change, founded by Ashoka Fellow Tim Conibear in Masiphumelelo in 2011, is a project that provides surf therapy to young South Africans from violent communities. These are youths who are exposed to a myriad of problems, and who suffer from acute emotional/physical stress, which in turn fosters learning disabilities, behavioral problems and often times social exclusion, W4C aims to break this down by using surfing as a means of therapy. David met with Apish Thsethsa on a cold and stormy winter’s afternoon, before one of the sessions with the young kids to talk more about this amazing project and of course his journey to becoming one of the leaders of this award-winning programme, which started small with only 10 children in one community and now has around 250 children in three communities (Masiphumelelo, Lavender Hill and Monwabisi). Seeing Apish interacting with the kids illustrates that they have a healthy respect for him. After taking shelter from the passing squalls and wind in my car, we spoke about the positive effects that surfing has on one’s self,
“Surfing changes your perception of life, where taking risks has consequences, when you catch a wave, you don’t just catch a wave, you have to have a vision of what you are going to do, are you going to go left or right, what are you going to do on the wave”,
this is something Apish thinks can be applied to our lives as we need to understand that all actions have consequences whether they are good or bad. “Waves for Change is a self development programme that uses surfing as its foundation”, in doing this Waves for Change is helping kids gain coping skills to deal with tragic events that are brought about through broken homes and broken backgrounds; it gives the kids a sense of belonging as well as being able to master a platform where they are trying new things and experiences, and the independence to make choices for themselves. “You are looking after yourself and surrounding yourself with a healthy environment”, adds Apish.
Why do you do what you do? “I was once a young kid, and I would like kids to follow the same path”,
Apish has been able to travel all around South Africa, as well as the UK to take part in a SUP (stand up Paddle) event and all of this has been possible because of surfing.
One tip? “Ubuntu ungamntu ngabanye abantu [a person is a person through other people], always be generous, self aware and conscious of what is happening and what you can do”
Get in touch with Waves for Change and find out more about their active projects.