DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
Umthombo is a nonprofit providing alternatives for homeless children and a humble pathway out from the streets. The dedicated team is a mix of social workers and former street children who now work as mentors. Many kids run away from the townships to escape domestic violence and substance abuse but most turn to glue or cheap drugs to get a high from and away from the harsh reality of street life. Umthombo provides kids who are abstaining from drugs with surfboards as an alternative healthy coping mechanism.
We spent one summer with the residents staying at Umthombo's safe house, sharing waves and stories while also creating videos to promote their surfing. Later, Umthombo's surfing program gained international recognition and became Surfers Not Street Children as a team of former street children who today are top surfers. These athletes remain dedicated to their journeys of transformation but now are also regarded as role models for others still on the streets. They are advocates for their rights and safety.