Raising funds through Kickstarter, Liberia’s Harper Sliders club wants to teach local children the healing power of surfing.

Raising funds through Kickstarter, Liberia’s Harper Sliders club wants to teach local children the healing power of surfing.

Waves for change is a ‘surf therapy’ organisation, which works in communities affected by violence, poverty and conflict. This week, the charity teamed up with African surf brand Mami Wata to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to build a “Harper Sliders” Surf Club for kids in Liberia.

“Harper Sliders is more than just a surf club,” says Sal Masekela,  a commentator, presenter and well-known activist for African surfing. “It’s a community-owned space where people are healing themselves, learning skills and creating a whole new way of life through surfing.”

The West African country is an extremely young nation – and is deeply impoverished. According to Unicef, children aged under 15 make up 42 per cent of its population, with 63 per cent of Liberians under the age of 25. 84 per cent of Liberians live on less than the equivalent of US$1.25 per day.

One of the many beautiful and valuable natural resources it has is, though, the ocean. According to online surf forecasting site Magic Seaweed, Liberia has the greatest concentration of quality left-handers on the whole continent. But because of its relative isolation during long years of civil war, only a trickle of foreign surfers have ventured here. Combine that with year-round warm water and you have a readily accessible, natural way for an embattled community to heal itself on its own doorstep – without reliance on multi-national companies and NGOs.

“ Our idea is to build a truly indigenous African surf culture where people make the products they need to paddle out into the ocean,” says South Africa-based Mama Wata founder Andy Davis. “Anyone who has surfed knows just how healing a single wave can be for an individual. If we can bring that potential to a whole new generation of Liberian kids, then think of what’s possible!”

“All of Mami Wata products – clothing, boards, board bags and skateboards, are manufactured in Africa by factories that care about their employees,” adds Mesekela. “By creating this sort of indigenous industry, the Surf Club and Mami Wata are changing the lives of at-risk children in Liberia.

Help raise funds for the Harper Sliders by donating to their Kickstarter.

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