A classmate first introduced Indiphile Osinachi, known by friends as Indie, to the charity?s Surf Club in 2018 - Credit: Submitted

COLUMN: Braunton based charity founder Tom Hewitt and Kelly Slater help a young surfer accomplish her dreams

Stephanie Conway

Tom Hewitt, founder of Surfers Not Street Children & Braunton-based surfer has helped a surfing prodigy that has been trained by his charity to fund her place at the ISA World Junior Championships in El Salvador at the end of this month.

A classmate first introduced Indiphile Osinachi, known by friends as Indie, to the charity’s Surf Club in 2018. Its a drop-in centre at the New Pier on the Durban beachfront, which provides surf training, mentorship and daily care for vulnerable children in the area. Participants are coached by Sandile Mqadi, a legendary South African surf coach and WSL judge.

Her first experiences on a surfboard sparked a passion for wave riding which led her to regularly attend swimming and surfing lessons with the club. The charity emphasises the importance of water safety in their coaching, and through training had helped to strengthen her ability as both a swimmer and surfer. After quickly developing her wave riding skills, she joined the charity’s Girls Surf Too program.

A classmate first introduced Indiphile Osinachi, known by friends as Indie, to the charity’s Surf Club in 2018 - Credit: Submitted
A classmate first introduced Indiphile Osinachi, known by friends as Indie, to the charity’s Surf Club in 2018 - Credit: Submitted

Indie has entered some high-profile competitions including the Ballito Pro this past December, which eaned her enough points to qualify for an invitation to represent South Africa at the ISA World Junior Championships in El Salvador towards the end of May 2022. Indie is one of a team of three competitors in the Under 18 Girls category who will compete against other young athletes from all over the world. But because there wasn’t any funding to help the athletes attend the event in South America, Indie needed to raise the funds required to enter the competition.

As soon as he learned that Indie had been chosen to compete in the event, Tom Hewitt, the charity’s founder, set up a GoFundMe page. He detailed that Indie needed to raise the Surfing South Africa required fee of $4,500 to cover her overall trip costs, as well as $500 to equip her with everything that she needed to attend the event. Any money raised above that amount, he promised to use to fund back into the Girls Surf Too program to empower more young girls in the Durban area.

Kelly Slater quickly spotted the post, dug out the photo he had taken with Indie on a previous surfing trip to Durban, and shared it alongside the GoFundMe link on an Instagram story for his 3 million followers to see. The donations quickly rolled in, and within 24 hours, Indie’s place at the ISA World Junior Championships had been fully funded.

“I met Kelly back in 2019. So when he posted the picture on his story, I was like, how does Kelly still have that picture?” Indie beams. “Then I just went crazy in my house. My mum asked me what happened, and I said, the 11-time champion, Kelly Slater, the GOAT, just posted a picture of me! Then my mum went crazy too, she took a screenshot and showed it to the whole family.”

A classmate first introduced Indiphile Osinachi, known by friends as Indie, to the charity’s Surf Club in 2018 - Credit: Submitted
A classmate first introduced Indiphile Osinachi, known by friends as Indie, to the charity’s Surf Club in 2018 - Credit: Submitted

“Surfing means the world to me,” says Indie. “It’s like a home. Anytime I feel down - or really happy - I have to surf. Before I express anything, like writing papers for school, surfing helps clear my mind. It’s what has helped me meet a lot of people, make new friends and travel to new places around the world. It’s just crazy.”

To learn more about Surfers Not Street Children please visit their website: https://www.surfnotstreets.org/

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