When we started our Surf Liberia Scholarship program over a year ago, our idea was to offer an alternative vehicle for sponsoring surfers that didn't involve throwing them cash and encouraging a consumer-based lifestyle.
We wanted surfing to be a positive force for change for themselves and their community--to grow leaders through surfing. So we paid their school fees instead.
Fast-forward one year. Nevermind we may not be the *only* people paying their school fees (gasp!). When we asked two surfers what they wanted to do with their sponsorship money, they said they wanted to buy clothes. They thought about it and that's what they came up with. I'm not saying they shouldn't buy clothes, but not with Surf Liberia money. So what good is this money doing?
Nate works professionally at a variety of educational initiatives and projects involving young people and we know we want to impact the local surfers in a way that helps them realize personal and professional goals, whatever they might be. So we're revisioning our Surf Liberia project--which has raised almost $500 in t-shirt sales to date--to be more mentoring oriented and less about just giving young surfers money and equipment. We'll still do that, but we'll have better boundaries and parameters about what we will and will not support.
For example, seed money to start a business, cool. Money to go clothes shopping in Monrovia, probably not. Thanks to Soul Surfers Foundation for their support for Robertsport Community Works and this project: Alfonzo and Phillip are holding donated surfboards above (this photo, btw, was taken in May). They're the ones who aren't getting the clothes, but they have new surfboards. I think they'll get over it.