East Coast surfers, most from Wilmington, find satisfaction in helping girls on the other side of the world.
WILMINGTON — Every spring for the past eight years, a group of East Coast surfers, most from Wilmington, travel over 10,000 miles to India to take orphaned and abandoned girls on what we call a Surfing Safari.
Our girls are the lucky ones, living in safety at a Home of Hope in Kochi and no longer on the streets or in brothels, but they have no avenue to regain their childhood or build memories that outlast horrible experiences in their young lives. A Surfing Safari gives them just that. It builds the inner girl: if I can ride a wave, I can do anything!
Of course, our intention is to give them a life-changing adventure — which it is — but what I saw, especially this year, was how our trips transform American kids as well.
Let’s talk about the Indian girls first.
When they ride a wave, standing on a surfboard, they are the queens of the sea. Nothing can touch them at that moment, no one can take it away. Over the course of a week of surfing, their shoulders straighten, they smile, and they giggle, just like little girls are supposed to do. They experience an intense childhood all wrapped up in a week of surfing and they’re changed. After all, they can walk on water.
I’ll never forget how one young orphan girl blossomed. She always held back, never making eye contact. When we tried to help her, she moved away from our touch. Especially from the men. I can’t blame her, some 80 percent of Homes of Hope girls have experienced physical or sexual abuse, often by men.
Little by little she gave surfing a try, struggled at first but started to get it. Through the process she started to smile a little, make some eye contact. But when she finally rode a good one all the way to the beach, she lit up! She let out a loud bellow as her arms rose straight up in victory. She ran to us almost knocking us over…