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Refugees Surf Towards A Brighter Future At Bondi

By Kate Myers on February 12, 2016 in News

Photo: Surfing Without Borders

Photo: Surfing Without Borders

In December 2015, 20 refugee and asylum seekers took part in the inaugural Surfing Without Borders program, led by the Let’s Go Surfing team at Bondi Beach.

The event, designed by Settlement Services International, sought to promote physical and emotional wellbeing amongst its refugee and asylum seeker clients.

Settlement Services International CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the success of the event was evident in the effect it had on participants.

“The men who took part in the program noticed tremendous improvements in their overall health and wellbeing; their English language skills improved, along with their confidence and surfing abilities,” Ms Roumeliotis said.

Reza, a client from Iran and a former lifesaver in his own country, said the program helped him to find work in Australia.

“I love the water,” he said “It makes me think of nothing, no worries in life, just being in the water and having a happy life. The water and being with my friends is a good feeling. I can’t stop smiling; it makes me so happy.”

An important feature of the Surfing Without Borders program is the ongoing involvement of participants, inspiring others in a similar position to challenge themselves in a safe and relaxed environment. Let’s Go Surfing director Brenda Miley believes the experience is invaluable.

“The ocean is a place where everyone is equal,” Ms Miley said. “It’s all about having fun and sharing a great experience together.”

Donations to the program from the local community have an important role to play, with monetary donations assisting further initiatives, and equipment such as beginner surfboards, wetsuits and board repair kits essential to the program’s success.

For those willing to give their time, the program welcomes local volunteers to participate, and provide friendship and practical support for refugees, humanitarian entrants and asylum seekers.

To donate to the program, to get involved, or for more information, visit