Bureh Surf Club highlights Sierra Leone as top surfing destination
Africa is famous for its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife and but it's not very often though of as leading destination for surfing. However, this could soon change thanks to the opening of a surf club in a small fishing town in Sierra Leone that unites the community while offering a future for young surfing enthusiasts.
When you think of leading surfing destinations, you're drawn to Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia and the U.S but West Africa could soon join that list thanks to the opening of a surf club in Sierra Leone.
The Bureh Beach Surf Club is located near the fishing village of Bureh Town in Sierra Leone, which is home to a tiny population of about 200 people and surfing enthusiasts.
Located 90 minutes from the country's capital city, Freetown, the surf club was set up in 2012 by Irishman Shane O'Connor who has lived in Sierra Leone since 2009.
One local 17 year-old surfer, Kadiatu Kamara, explained how the surf club has boosted her confidence and helped fund her school fees. She said:
"I like surfing because surfing can keep me busy and it changed my attitude. My mother doesn't have money to pay for me to go to school and surfing helps me to pay my school fees."
Manager of the club, Jahbez Benga, said that part of the takings goes towards paying for school transport for children and young adults, as well as health services in Bureh Town.
Benga explained that the club was funded by the German nongovernmental organisation Welthungerhilfe who wanted to provide a sustainable lifestyle for the local people. Mr Benga commented:
"Some of the guys before, they were charcoal burning, they cut down the trees to burn coal. We all agreed if they build us this surf club, some of the guys would stop going to the forest and the surf club would support the community and now we all have a lot of trees and it's good for all of us."
The surf club attracts foreign surfers and tourists enjoying eco-friendly holidays and the interaction with foreigners has helped another young local surfer who volunteers at the club.
Charles Samba, a 17 years old surfer volunteer at the club, said that his social skills have improved along with his self-confidence. He explained:
"Now I know how to speak with people. Before I didn't know, like if I saw white people I would run, but now surfing makes me speak with different kinds of people."
Despite its turbulent past, Sierra Leone has become a more stable country over the last decade and tourism is high up on the government's agenda. The West African country is home to some stunning natural landscapes including pristine sandy beaches, Turtle Islands, and thriving natural reserves such as Yawri Bay, Kangari Hills Forest Reserve, and the Mamunta Mayosso Wildlife Sanctuary.
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