Jalian Johnston // South Africa
Jalian contacted Waves For Water through Hurley with his reputation as an “artist” surfer from the protected Southern California turf of Palos Verdes. He was going to South Africa with his girlfriend Corey, who was going to do several months of work with the country’s wildlife. Along with looking for local inspiration for his art, Jalian wanted to do something for the people. He chose to be a Clean Water Courier.
Jalian tells the story in his own words…If there’s one thing I have learned from traveling and from the worlds’ cultures it’s that it is very desirable to bring offerings when arriving in a new place. Having the filters seemed like the best offering we could give. To provide a family with clean drinking water for years could make the difference between sickness and health, and life and death.
A couple of weeks after arriving in Cape Town, getting our bearings, already scoring some great waves and art finds, we started to ask around about who and where the people were who could benefit the most from these filters.
It was suggested that we save all our filters for the Transkei area. And when we finally got there after a few more weeks of traversing the coastline east we realized why. Transkei is when we really started to feel like we were in Africa. It’s a rural coastal area of the Eastern Cape that was sort of forgotten by the government and is the main dwelling for the Xhosa people (the “X” is pronounced by making a clicking noise, which I find very hard to do!).
The Transkei is where the houses are round and are made from mud bricks, and the roofs are still mostly made from grass. There is usually about three or four of these huts per plot that literally stretch as far rurally as the eye can see. Each contains a moderate, fenced in area for corn, their staple; and the rest grazing land for mostly cattle and goat, which turns out they were more a status symbol than a food source. On the road you are seeing directly the way these people humbly live – animals everywhere, women carrying things on their heads and walking for days, scruffy-clothed, bare foot kids run out to the car to hold out their hands.
We definitely knew we were in the right place to give these filters away but finding the people who truly needed them and overcoming a language barrier to actually explain to them what we had, and how to use and take care of them was going to be another issue. We met a helpful American couple in Coffee Bay named Robin and Charlie, who own a lodge there and have been living there for a few years and were very helpful in pointing us in the right direction.
They introduced us to some young, local surfer boys who were all orphans living together in a small mud hut on the hill. How they were surviving I had no idea. Toby was one of the boys I really connected with, I guess cuz he knew a good amount of English and because we would go surf together often. He would tell us crazy stories about people being sick from drinking river water, and that his grandmother actually died from cholera in the river water. The rivers originate from the interior and by the time they get to the “wild coast” area they are often polluted.
Anyway, we gave Toby and his friends who lived in the shack a filter so they could filter a nearby stream. They were all so thankful that they don’t have to worry about getting sick from the water. It will make life a little bit easier. And after hearing the filters were a gift from Hurley and Waves For Water that made him even more stoked as he thinks the Hurley brand is really cool! So I left him a Hurley shirt and trunks. He probably had the best day of his life.
Another filter went to Dawn, a teacher from the U.K., who started Coffee Bay Montessori School. She has about twenty or more children attending, ages 2-6. She was very thankful to receive a filter because the tap is a far walk away and often dirty and shut off. Otherwise they drank the rain water off the roof in a tank. It was so cute seeing Dawn explain the benefits of clean water to young children and the footage we have of their reactions to the taste of clean water is priceless.
Another filter went to the AIDS orphanage on top of the hill – an orphanage where the children had either been affected or infected by AIDS – a very scary and real issue for this area and all of Africa as well. They were very thankful to be able to filter their own water for the children as hauling it from town is expensive for an orphanage that is run on donations. I feel like the filter was a substantial contribution. And again the children were so cute and it felt really good to know that they would be safe from future waterborne illness.
So all in all, Corey and I feel so blessed to have physically seen the direct benefit to human lives from these filters. It has given this trip so much joy and purpose. Just wanted to thank Hurley and Waves For Water for sponsoring these filters for us to give to the people of the Transkei in need.
Aloha! Jalian & Corey