Waves for Change helps community

MEC Alan Winde, Apish Tshetsha and Brian Chesky enjoying their Airbnb Experience with Surf with Purpose and Waves of Change.

Local surf NGO, Waves for Change, has a brand-new audience: Airbnb travellers.

Apish Tshetsha, surfing instructor from the Waves for Change programme, recently taught Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde and Airbnb’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, how to surf.

Last month Waves for Change won the global Laureus Sport for Good Award at a ceremony held in Monaco.

Since the organisation is not for profit, Airbnb has classified Mr Tshetsha’s offering as a “Social Good Experience”, meaning that 100 percent of the proceeds from any guest booking, goes to Waves for Change.

Since the launch of the Trips platform in November, Airbnb is combining the best of where you stay, with what you do and the people you meet.

Trips is a people-powered platform designed to make travel both easy and magical and Cape Town was one of just 12 cities chosen for the global launch of Airbnb Trips.

One of these trips is with Surf with Purpose, which is a 3.5-hour Airbnb surfing experience with Apish, an internationally-accredited surfing instructor. He is also the first surfer to emerge from Masiphumelele and is, himself, a graduate of the Waves for Change programme.

Surf with Purpose is a social impact experience, meaning that guests go on experiences with knowledgeable hosts from local non-profit organisations and get to know their causes, while also making a positive impact.

Apish was born in Tsolo, a few kilometres from Umtata, and grew up in Masiphumelele.

He dropped out of school because it was too expensive and his government subsidy never came through.

His life changed when he met Ashoka Fellow, Tim Conibear, who taught him how to surf.

More lives changed when, together, they set up Waves for Change an award-winning non-profit organisation.

The programme uses surfing as a form of therapy to help vulnerable children, often from violent and impoverished communities, cope with the stress of their lives.

It provides access to safe spaces, caring adults and surf therapy sessions designed to help at-risk youth regulate behaviour, build self-confidence, establish healing relationships and, ultimately make positive life choices.

From an initial reach of 10 children in the township of Masiphumelele, the programme has since grown to reach more than 400 children, teachers, and parents every year.

Since its inception in 2011, over a thousand children have gone through the programme.

Female participation has increased to a third in the past two years and over 50 coaches have gained qualifications in surf instructing, lifesaving, counselling and computer skills.

Mr Chesky said: “This experience was amazing. Having just gotten off a plane after a really long flight, there’s no better way to immerse yourself right away in the local community. I have just surfed with Apish, who is the first surfer from Masiphumelele township and all these kids, it’s incredible to see how experiences are changing the way people experience the Cape Town community. The Waves for Change experience is amazing, it was great fun for Mr Winde and I to take part, and I cannot wait to try out all the other great experiences in Cape Town.”

Reflecting on the project’s growth, Apish said: “It is incredible to think we started with just 10 kids in Masiphumelele and now, with the Airbnb trips, we are teaching people all over the world to surf.

“I like taking guests to Masiphumelele, my home town, and giving them insight into the culture there, the opportunity to meet my neighbours and sample local food – everyone really enjoys it. The funding we get from these trips goes back into Waves for Change which is also great, that way we can help even more kids from communities like Masiphumelele.”