It’s almost the holidays, so let’s talk giving back. For a couple years now, we’ve been following the progress of Waves for Water, a charity that saves lives just by getting the surf community to do what they love to do anyway — travel. Set up in 2009, Waves for Water’s mission is to bring access to clean water to the places that don’t have it.
So, how does the surf community fit into this plan? Partnering with Hurley, Waves for Water started the Clean Water Couriers program, where surfers act like couriers, bringing water filters with them when they travel to developing countries in search of waves.
The organization provides the filters, but leaves the trekking up to the courier: “Pack a few filters in your suitcase and either connect with local non-profits in that area or personally travel to villages to set them up yourself,” they suggest. It’s a smart and almost poetic way to give back to the places that offer us such wicked surf — offering water as thanks for waves.
But though the idea is super simple, it’s actually a solution to one of the biggest health threats in the developing world. The water filters they set up recently in Haiti helped to stop a cholera outbreak that had killed over a thousand and made thousands more ill. And they’ve done similar work in countries like Colombia, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
As well as spreading access to clean water, Waves for Water is also there when disaster strikes, leading fundraising initiatives to make sure that peoples’ other basic needs are met, whenever and wherever.
When the recent Super Typhoon hit the Philippines, Waves for Water quickly and urgently responded with an effort that has raised over $134,000 to date, providing as many as 20,000 people with access to clean water in the midst of this disaster. And back home in the U.S. last year, their Hurricane Sandy Relief Initiative raised over a million, helping the removal of rubble as well as rebuilding efforts.
Of course, you don’t have to be a world-traveling surfer to help Waves for Water. People can also purchase a filter, make a donation, or start a fundraiser. But for us in the surf community, becoming a Clean Water Courier is a really cool way to make the most out of the surf trips we already enjoy taking, and of turning our love for our lifestyle into love for people in need.
Waves for Water is one of those things that just makes you feel good to be a surfer, and we can only hope their message keeps spreading throughout the scene. As they put it: “Imagine millions of travelers doing this. Now, we’re making waves.”