by Becky Mendoza August 01, 2016

It was set, the dates were booked, to exit our normal lives and immerse ourselves in what we love to do, what makes us who we are, to allow time to reconnect with ourselves & our fellow sisters of the surf, in the environment we know makes us healthy and glow inside and out. I follow Leah Dawson (@leahloves) on instagram, as an inspiration and reminder of the beauty of waves, and the sheer joy of surfing them, or dancing them in Leah’s case.  Just one week before departure I noticed that Leah was part of Changing Tides Foundation (CTF) and that they had been working in Mexico to provide one of the basic needs for life, clean water. I remember reading the posts and thinking ‘Wow, these surfer girls are changing people’s lives.’ I love people like that in the world. Mick Fanning is like that for me. It brings a tear to my eye and fuzzy heart when I see him surfing with the special needs crew and impacting positively on people’s lives.

So I decided to contact CTF and see if we could help during our surfing adventure to the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia. To gather some information on possible aid and what the needs of the community are in the Mentawai Islands was the quest.  

On board Offshore Surfers, we began to explore some of the most pristine waves in the world. As we were mostly removed from the local community on board the boat, I felt a quite limited in my exposure to the real life on mainland in the Mentawais. The best opportunity was to chat with the local surf guides in the surf, or locals on land that I made contact with. At first I felt a little nervous about talking about real life stuff that affected their lives but as a result, the conversation had much more impact and I felt it resonated more deeply than just talking about the waves. It was very different to the average chat in the line-up but it gave me a little insight into the lives of the community in the Menatwai Islands. That, in itself, was great for me.  

From the conversations I had life seems pretty good in the Mentawai islands. A number of times it was mentioned that SurfAid have been doing there work in the area. Apparently fresh food and vegetables must be brought onto the smaller islands in the Ments. From what local surf guides told me a possible project could be increasing the produce on the island of Siberut. Working with the local villages to increase their produce. One surf guide mentioned that the soil is very good on Siberut and it is the main place which supplies fresh produce. This would benefit all the islands in the Mentawai's. Also kids on Siberut could do with some old surf boards. One guide said he would fix up broken boards then give them to the kids. So maybe a children’s holiday surf camp might work?

After 10 days of floating around in paradise, surfing some of the most perfect waves in the world, connecting with strong beautiful women, chatting about our down times, up times, our life loves and our deep gratitude for what surfing gives us, allows us to feel, it is evident we must continue the endeavor to protect this. We returned with this information and relayed it to Changing Tides Foundation, which will help them assess the needs and brainstorm possible projects for the future.

Becky Mendoza
Becky Mendoza