I would like to introduce you to The Surfer Kids. You may have heard about them and perhaps you have even seen them in photos on this website or on Facebook. Today, however, I would like to officially introduce you to them by sharing with you some of their writing.
I asked The Surfer Kids to each write something about themselves and their association with surfing. Few of them are highly literate and they are not always very good at expressing themselves. Most of the time it takes a lot of encouragement to get them to say anything beyond short sentences. Even after more than 6 months of surfing together and getting to know one another over the course of many Saturdays, they sometimes still struggle to have full length conversations with us.
Just like Unravel Surf Travel is not a traditional Surf or Travel Company, but a company of travellers who also enjoy surfing, our Outreach Program in the rural community of Friemersheim is not a traditional ‘school’ and we are not their teachers, at least not in any traditional way. As such I was not expecting much, if anything, in the form of writing. I was simply hoping that the exercise would make them think about their experiences in the ocean.
We received an incredible response almost immediately and what they wrote touched all of us deeply. What you are about to read surpassed all of my expectations.
I believe that although we are engaged with them on the beach and although we go there with the aim of surfing and having fun, despite (or perhaps because of) the informal surroundings, we are responsible for helping them toward some of the most important realisations in life.
Because life, after all, is not such a serious affair.
Here at Unravel Surf Travel we always strive to give anyone we come into contact with a reason to pursue that which is for the highest good of all. Not in the name of altruism or any other lofty ideal, but for a very simple reason. We believe in the unexpressed potential of all people, including ourselves.
We humans express ourselves through our relationships with other people. This is essentially the meaning of the word Ubuntu. Pursuing the highest good of all concerned is therefore actually just the expression of your own potential and discovering your own goodness.
Think about it. You cannot express yourself within a vacuum.
Here at Unravel Surf Travel we try to give people a reason to pursue that which is for the highest good of all because that way people will do what is best for themselves without following any prescriptions.
How do you find that which is truly good for you? How do you find what you really need?
By trying and doing (and not just prescribing) that which you think is best for others.
Unravel Surf Travel Outreach might look like a very lofty and idealistic attempt at ‘doing something good for others’ and perhaps that is why people sometimes shy away from such things. After all, everybody understands that one cannot base one’s actions only on the premise of always ‘doing something good for other people’, otherwise where would you stop? If your purpose is simply to do good for other people who is to say that you shouldn’t sell your house and donate the money to charity?
Unravel Surf Travel Outreach is not an effort to ‘do something good for other people’, we are doing something good for ourselves.
Through these kids I am healing my own past and exploring the infinite potential of my own future by being a part of Unravel Surf Travel Outreach.
In the Philosophy of Morality, otherwise known as Ethics, philosophers ask the question: “What is the right action?”
There are already too many opinions to count, some believe in Altruism (doing good things for other people) and others argue in favour of Egoism. (Doing good things for yourself) Some believe in the maximization of pleasure and elimination of suffering (which is following your own authority) and others believe that, even in modern times, it is possible to find the right action simply by studying and following the bible or other ‘holy’ books. (Which is following some other authority)
I would like to throw my opinion out there for consideration:
If you do something for yourself, it should benefit other people also. If you do something for other people, you should also benefit from it. Pursuing either one without regard for the other creates imbalance, which cannot result in the right action.
It is therefore not a question of whether to do something for others, selflessly, or for yourself, selfishly. Instead ask yourself: “Do my selfish actions benefit others also, and do my selfless actions benefit me?”
Because ultimately We Are All One. One interconnected infinity which cannot be selfish or selfless because it is everything.
It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to The Surfer Kids.
English Translations in Italics [Comments / Clarification added in parenthesis]:
Hoekom hou ek van Surfing? Eerstens hoekom ek hou van surf is dat dit is baie ervarend. Die eerste keer toe ek gegaan het toe was ek bang maar nou is ek nie meer nie. Ek wil graag my hele lewe lank surf. As ek n professional is dan sal ek ook ander kinders leer en Oom Hermann help. So lank as wat ek lewe wil ek surf.
Why do I like Surfing?
Firstly, why I like surfing is that because it is very much filled with experiences. [Good for one’s own experience] The first time I went I was afraid but now I am no longer afraid. I want to surf for the rest of my life. When I am professional then I would like to help Hermann. As long as I live I want to surf.
My naam is Marchall Nortje. Ek bly in Friemersheim.
Branderplankry is vir my interessant. Hoekom ek van dit hou is omdat ek lief is vir die see en swem. Ons kinders in Friemersheim het nie die sportgeleenthede wat ander kinders in ander plekke het nie. Toe die geleentheid kom toe gryp ek dit met albei hande aan. Die rede hoekom ek dit gedoen het is dat ons wat besig is om tieners te word het niks om naweke te doen nie. Die meeste begin om te rook en drink en gebruik dwelms. Ek wil nie my lewe so opmors nie.
Branderplank ry bied my die geleentheid aan om strande en mense te ontmoet. Die afgelope tyd het ek baie toeriste ontmoet. Veral baie Russe. Wat oom Hermann en sy vrou vir ons as kinders doen waardeer ek baie. Miskien kan dit wat hy my leer van my n professionele branderplankryer maak.
Baie dankie oom Hermann
My name is Marchal Nortje. I live in Friemersheim.
Surfing is interesting for me. I like it because I love the ocean and I love to swim. The children here in Friemersheim do not have the sporting opportunities that other kids in other areas have. When the opportunity came I grabbed it with both hands. The reason I did that is because we are becoming teenagers and we have nothing to do on weekends. Most kids start smoking, drinking and using drugs. I do not want to waste my life like that.
Surfing gives me the opportunity to meet people and beaches. [With Unravel Surf Travel Outreach The Surfer Kids have explored more of South Africa’s coast than they have ever done before. Not a single one of the kids had been to Buffalo Bay, which is only 100km away, prior to joining Unravel Surf Travel!] Recently I met many tourists. Especially Russians. I really appreciate what Hermann and his wife are doing for us kids. Perhaps what he is teaching me can make a professional surfer of me.
Thank very much Hermann
My naam is Chaneal Fernol ek is in graad 7. Ek is gebore op die 16-03-1999. Ek bly by my Ouma en Oupa in Friemersheim. Dit is baie lekker by my Ouma hulle. Ek is n soort meisie wat baie van rekenaars en sport en skoolwerk hou. Ek hou ook daarvan om te dink. My oë is bruin en my hare is vaal swart. Ek het meer seuns vriende as meisies. Ek doen baie goed in my skoolwerk veral in Wiskunde en Afrikaans. Eendag wil ek n doktor word. Ek hou ook van sangers soos Jaden Smith en Trey Songz. Ek is baie bang vir n spinnekop en ek hou baie van hondjies.
As ons vertrek van die huis af oppad Buffelsbaai toe dan is dit die lekkerste om te kyk na die huise en die winkels en karre veral die oseaan wanneer die son se strale so oor die water skyn en die seespieel te verwonder dit is vir my baie mooi en die branders te sien bots teen die rotse is vir my die mooiste.
As ek in die water is besig om die branders te surf is dit die lekkerste gevoel nog ooit. My lekkerste more is wanneer ek so in die brander draai. Dit is regtig nie lekker wanneer die brander jou omslaan nie veral wanneer jy so onder die water le en soek aan n plek om op te kom, maar dit voel awesome as jy eers weet wat al aan gaan. Ek het al seer gekry en dit het nie lekker gevoel nie, maar jy word weer beter en dit is al wat saak maak.
Om te surf is n once in a lifetime ding. As jy dit het wil jy aan hou en aan hou. Vandat ek geleer surf het was dit vir my baie lekker. Ek kan nie myself geglo het toe ek uitvind ek het goed gedoen nie. Ons het aan n kompetiesie deel geneem en daardie meisies was almal ouer as ek en dit was nie vir my lekker nie, maar ek het vir myself gedink dit maak hulle nie beter as myself nie. Ek het vir myself gese ek kan dit maak. Ek het dit toe gemaak en ek het self vertroue gekry. Ek het nuwe vriende gemaak.
Ek wil dankie se vir Hermann en die ander span dat hulle my baie baie gehelp het op my pad. Weereens dankie vir als.
My name is Chaneal Fernol and I am in grade 7. I was born on the 16th of March 1999. I stay with my Grandmother and Grandfather in Friemersheim. It is very nice at my Grandparent’s place. I am the kind of girl that likes computers, sport and school work very much. I also like to think. My eyes are brown and my hair is pale black. I have more boy friends than girl friends. I do very well at school, especially in Afrikaans [their home language] and Maths. One day I would like to become a doctor. I like singers like Jaden Smith and Trey Songzs. I am very afraid of a spider and I love little dogs.
When we leave for Buffalo Bay [which is the beach we have been going to most often recently] I like to watch to the houses and the shops and the cars and especially the ocean, when the sun rays shine and reflects of the water’s surface, I am amazed by all of it. It is the most beautiful thing to watch the waves crash against the rocks.
It is the best feeling ever when I am in the water surfing. The best morning is a morning when I can turn on the waves. [Meaning not just surf the wave straight, but actually surf sideways, either left or right, across the face of the wave. This is also what separates a beginner from an intermediate level surfer] It really isn’t nice when the wave knocks you over, especially not when you are under water looking for a place to come up. [Or waiting for a chance to come up because sometimes even relatively small waves can push you down before you are able to surface] But once you know what is going on it feels awesome! I have gotten hurt before, but one will always get better and that is all that matters. [On her second day surfing the board hit her leg after she was knocked over by a really big wave]
To surf is a once in a lifetime thing. [Perhaps because no one else in their community has ever tried it before] Once you have it you want to keep on going and going. Since learning how to surf I have enjoyed it. I couldn’t believe it when I realised that I have done well. We went to a competition and all the other girls were older than me, and that wasn’t nice. [In the recent Beginners Contest that we entered the Surfer Kids into, the girls category was under 18 whereas the boys category was restricted to under 13 only. So the boys surfed in their own age group while Bianca and Chaneal had to compete against older girls] But I thought to myself that just because they are older that doesn’t make them better. I told myself I can make it. I gained self confidence and I made new friends. [Chaneal also won the competition. She out performed all the other older girls and took first place!]
I would like to thank Hermann and the rest of the team, they have helped me a lot on my path. Once again thank you very much.
My naam is Bianca Volkwyn. Ek is 12 jaar oud. Ek gaan skool op n plaaslike skool, Friemersheim Primêre Skool. Dit is n skool wat ek baie voor lief is. En op hierdie skool het ek geleer van surf. Ek wou nie deelneem nie, maar
my ouers het my aangemoedig. Ek dink toe dit is n nuwe ding om te beleef. Surf wat ek van geen kant af ken nie, maar wat ek wil leer. My ouers het my ondersteun. Ek het gedink ek sou dit nie maak nie, maar hulle het vir my gese ek moet deurdruk, en aan die einde is daar vir my n prys. My ouers het vir my gese ek gaan mense sien, plekke sien, dinge beleef wat ek nog nooit beleef het nie. En een Saterdag oggend toe my ouers dorp toe was het ek besluit om my broertjie saam te neem en hy het dit ook baie geniet. Ons surfers het toe aan n kompetisie deelgeneem. Waarvan een van my maatjies eerste prys en ek tweede prys gekry het. En dit is als te danke aan Mr Hermann en sy vrou en die Here, want as dit nie vir hulle was nie sou ek dit nooit gemaak het nie. En ek wil dankie se aan my skoolhoof, my ouers, Hermann en sy vrou, my maatjies en die Here wat dit vir my moontlik gemaak het. Ek wil eendag self mense leer surf soos Mr. Hermann en sy vrou
My name is Bianca Volkwyn. I am 12 years old.
I attend a local rural school, Friemersheim Primary School. I love this school very much. At this school I learnt about surfing. I did not want to take part but my parents encouraged me. I thought that it would be a new thing to experience. Surfing, which I know nothing about, but want to learn. My parents supported me. I didn’t think I would make it, but they told me to push through. [Bianca w
as too afraid to go deeper than her knees, which is ankle deep for one of us, and she was much too afraid to even lie on the board. Even when the smallest of foamies (broken waves) gently came rolling toward the beach, she would jump up and cling around the neck of whoever was helping her at the time. Thanks mostly to the patience of our partner and surf coach Rayden, she stood on her first wave after three weekends of struggling with her fear]
My parents told me that at the end there would be a prize for me. They told me that I would get to see places and meet people and have experiences that I have never had before. One morning when my parents went to town, I decided to take my little bro
ther with and he also enjoyed it. [This is actually a little bit of a problem, because other people (brothers, sisters and friends) often want to come with and, although I wish for it everyday, we simply do not have the means to transport everybody]
Us surfers took part in a competition. One of my friends [Chaneal] came first and I came second. [This is strictly speaking not true. In fact, after a misunderstanding between ourselves and the contest organisers, Bianca surfed in the wrong heat and she had to surf another one straight afterwards. This was just too much for her and we had to leave the water before the end of the heat. But seeing as she is the only other girl in Unravel Surf Travel Outreach [apart from Chaneal] she did finish in second place, within our group. In actual fact there were around 14 girls, which makes the fact that Chaneal took first place so much more impressive]
All of this is thanks to Hermann, his wife and the Lord, without whom I would not have made it. I would like to thank our school principal, [Mr Speelman] my parents, Hermann and his wife, my friends and the Lord who made this possible for me.
One day I would also like to teach people how to surf, like Hermann and his wife.
All photos by Jenya Zhivaleva
Unravel Surf Travel