The children of Kabic Beach, Haiti sure know to surf. After school, they come to Kabic Beach to catch a couple of waves. From body boarding on discarded planks of wood as young children, they have graduated to real surf boards, courtesy of tourists.
Speaking of tourists, members of Surf Haiti hope that eventually one day, the local children will capitalize on tourists. Surf Haiti is a small organization that teaches locals how to ride the waves, offer lessons to tourists, rent surf boards. Now if only the tourists could just arrive.
As you can recall from the Earthquake in 2010, Haiti is still recovering from the loss that left 150,000 people dead. Haiti currently does not have the infrastructure to support mass tourism yet. In addition, many people have not come to recognize Haiti as a must visit destination site.
It is such a shame because Haiti has so much beauty to offer. A must visit place in Haiti is Jacmel and its surrounding beaches. Two and a half hours away from the capitol, Jacmel is home to colonial culture and filled with artisan culture. In addition, the people of Haiti could not be more friendly and welcoming and the food is delicious! What more could tourists want?
Surf Haiti was founded by Dr. Ken Pierce, a doctor from Hawaii who traveled to Haiti in 2010 to aid survivors of the earthquake. When he arrived, he observed a coast filled with awesome waves and was one of the few people who surfed them attracting much attention from locals. The next time he came back to the beaches, he was accompanied by many children with the interest of learning how to surf.
Joan Mamique, is now in charge of Surf Haiti and additionally runs a guest house a short distance from Kabic beach. For Mamique, he sees Haiti as a destination untouched by commercial tourism which could appeal to the more adventurous of tourists. Through Mamique’s lead, Surf Haiti has grown into a small business. The kids of Surf Haiti give lessons to foreign workers providing Surf Haiti with and income.
Surf Haiti was then handed off to Christopher Andris who now oversees Surf Haiti and makes sure that it is run by the Haitians. Andris hopes that Surf Haiti’s members will eventually learn to make a living through surfing.
Haiti is recovering considerably well after being hit by the Earthquake. Despite many challenges, Haiti is slowing healing. Violence has decreased significantly and you can even roam the streets of Jacmel alone at night without being afraid. Rubble has been cleared up and many buildings have already been rebuilt.
For the local surfers, surfing gives hope of a better future. In addition to the potential profit that surfing can bring from tourists eventually, surfing helps many children not think about their daily problems. It gives them a chance to play and be a kid. In the end, for these kids profit is not what matters but surfing some good waves.
For more check out Mitch Moxley’s “Surf’s Up In Haiti” article