SURFING + COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Read Cian’s full article in Issue 56 – Winter 2016/’17 of ‘Changing Ireland’! Flick through the pages or download the PDF here: https://bit.ly/CI-Iss56-Winter2016-17 SURFING FOR A LIVING IN SIERRA LEONE BY CIAN MATTHEW KEARNS Sustainability is key in community development. Projects that last are ones with strong local foundations. Bureh Beach Surf Club […]
Sustainability is key in community development. Projects that last are ones with strong local foundations. Bureh Beach Surf Club in Sierra Leone is a great example of a community-led initiative using its resources to their best advantage. Here
a determined local effort, along with a little international support, made a big difference to a small, coastal community. And it was founded by an Irishman.
Sitting outside the surf club, with waves lapping up almost to his feet, Galway man Shane O’Connor explains his role in founding the club. “Basically I wanted to help my friends and make sure they got the benefits of the natural resources: the waves here in Bureh.” He focused on fostering ownership amongst the locals. Rather than manage, he prompted and advised. Gradually, he has stepped back. Now, more often than not, he is just another punter renting a board when the waves are good.
|Surf’s up on Bureh Beach. Pic by Cian Kearns.|
Charles, one of the young surfing talents of Sierra Leone, says: “The community thinks that surfing is the best thing in Bureh.” He explains that along with being enormous fun itself, surf lessons provide a source of much needed income for local surfers. All the club members have a role to play. Some give surf lessons to tourists, mostly expats working at NGOs, who frequent Bureh Beach on the weekends. Others cook food for visitors or manage the rental equipment.
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