It wasn’t long ago that Liberia was among the West African nations hardest hit by an Ebola outbreak. That was circa 2014. A decade before that, a fifteen years-long, bloody civil war was coming to an end – 500,000 lives were lost and today the country still grapples with the legacy of child soldiers, blood diamonds, and Ebola.
Surfing doesn’t solve any of those issues, to be sure, but a burgeoning surf scene in Liberia is giving many kids a new lease on life. It represents an outlet where previously there wasn’t one. An opportunity for a new relationship with the ocean and recreation for its own sake.
Waves for Change, a South Africa-based non-profit that promotes surfing as therapy, especially for kids, understands this and has been working with the community of Harper in the south of Liberia – one of many it works with across the continent – for the last several years.
But, as the popularity of surfing in Harper continues to grow, there is no official gathering place, nowhere to go while kids wait for the tide to drop, and no place to stash boards – just an almond tree that’s become the de facto rendezvous point. Waves for Change aims to remedy this by constructing a surf clubhouse for the whole community to enjoy.
“Surfing is a brand new sport in Harper,” explained Waves for Change founder Tim Conibear in a press release. “Before we started, there really was nothing. The beach has become a hub for the community ever since with 50 to 60 people gathering under the almond tree daily. The clubhouse is going to create a safe space to gather, store equipment, run sessions and galvanize what’s fast becoming Liberia’s biggest surfing community!”
“Ok, that’s great but what does that have to do with me?” you might be wondering. Glad you asked.
To fund the clubhouse, Harper and Waves for Change have enlisted African surf brand Mami Wata to create a limited collection of Harper Sliders Surf Club Liberia apparel and equipment to raise funds – all proceeds go directly to the clubhouse construction and all apparel is made in Africa using suppliers who treat their workers ethically and fairly.
In other words, you can buy a hat, tee shirt, track jacket, or sweater from wherever you are in the world and make a lasting impact for a group of young surfers in West Africa. Seems like a win-win.
Goods can only be purchased through Waves for Change and Mami Wata’s Kickstarter campaign, here.