Making children smile
By SandrineGKF on April 05, 2012
In our Team Story segment, we are highlighting projects and work that is being carried out by some of the GKF Team. This post is about Roman Kappeler’s project in North-eastern Brazil.
In his own words:
We have been passionate kitesurfers since 2002. But living in Switzerland does not leave many options to practice the sport. Either there’s no wind or it is far too cold! So we have travelled a lot, and have been fortunate enough to get to know some incredible spots around the world. We went from Italy to Spain, Egypt, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mexico to name a few places before finally reaching the paradise of Canoa Quebrada in Brazil. Situated on the northeastern coast of Brazil, it is not as well known as Cumbuco or Jericoacoara because the conditions aren’t as ‘perfect’, but Canoa has lots of other things to offer- beautiful beaches, lovely people, and it has a buzzing cultural life.
We stayed for a while and got to know everyone in the area, including our soon-to-be right hand man Ednardo, better known as Edi. He is an exemplary guide for the region, and helped us find the best spots to practice kiting. He is passionate about the sport, and about helping to get locals involved: once time we went to one of the flat-water spots and we had to drive around the village with our beach buggy. By the time we got to the other side, our buggies were overcrowded with school children who could hardly contain their excitement!
When we got to the spot, they just couldn’t get enough of seeing all the kites up in the air and the people riding on the water.
It is almost impossible for them to get to learn the sport- not only is the gear too expensive, but the training wasn’t possible. A lucky few would sometimes get the chance to try someone’s gear, but they would always be nervous in case something happened- knowing they could never afford the repair work. So this got us thinking and planning: we wanted to get kids out on the water to experience the wonderful world of kiteboarding, and to give them a chance to use their own environment for their good too.
So Edi, an integral part of the village, was very proud to step up and take on the responsibility of teaching the kids. Our friends and network began leaving behind some of their old gear so that they could practice all year round. Edi does a fantastic good job- after just a few weeks, the first group of kids were kiting safely and independently. And so the “Falesia Kite School for Children” came into existence. The school supports local kids to help make their dream come true. And with the school, some important rules were established:
Training is only being provided to children who:
- are at least 9 years old
- attend school regularly
- are reliable and committed
- responsibly deal with the material
- enjoy the sport
- support each other
- do not use drugs
We know from experience that kitesurfing is a fantastic basis for a positive, engaging and inspiring activity for children. Furthermore, Brazil continues to grow in popularity with tourists from all over the world. In particular, surfers and kitesurfers are sure to find some of the best conditions to enjoy their passion. For this reason, it is important to train children properly from the beginning, so that they will later have the opportunity to develop careers in the sport that will help develop the local community.
The aim of Falesia Kite School for Children- and indeed, similar programs being developed by Global Kiter Foundation, is to create new opportunities for children in their local environment. We need to give these children fresh hope for the future- and a focus that will keep them away from drugs, alcohol and prostitution. As visitors to beautiful locations around the world, we cannot close our eyes as these problems grow with increased tourism. One way to protect the future generation is to give them a new, fresh and engaging perspective- and the tools to help them grow with it.
We encourage anyone planning a trip to Brazil to check out the beautiful region of Canoa Quebrada! If you can, bring old kites, boards, bars, lycras- anything that the school can use to continue training the children. You can follow our project on www.facebook.com/falesiakite. Let us know when you come- we will be happy to show you around. I head back every year (since 2007!)- you will love to! By the way, Edi will be your perfect guide- he works completely for free in School project, and makes his living as a tour guide... he is one of the best in the region, so check in with him for an amazing trip.
Global Kiter Foundation is also developing training courses for these communities. If you are interested in supporting these efforts, make a simple donation- it all goes a long way!
All we need are people who like the sport to give a little bit of their time back to the community. These projects don’t change the world, but they empower children the local communities to have a stronger and brighter future.
More info on the work of the Global Kiter Foundation: www.globalkiter.com