Project - Waves for Development

Waves for Development

See our updated report on the project completion.

WAVES for development International, Inc. (WAVES) was formed to connect surfing and sustainable community development. Increased education and economic opportunities result from volunteers visiting coastal communities while on vacation. WAVES requested a grant of financial support to strengthen youth development programming in Peru and volunteer experiences for travelers in a practical and skills-building approach.

WAVES targets local young men and women, aged 8-20, with limited exposure to educational resources. Participants learn about the environment while swimming, surfing and serving their community in a variety of activities that represent a holistic approach to development. Consistent with an experiential learning philosophy, youth learn by doing, and become healthy and confident in the process.

Many of the residents of Peru's coastline are engaged in fishing as their prime economic activity. High school graduation rates are as low as 30%. According to government statistics ( approximately 30% of Peru's population is under 14, amplifying the impact of poor education. Instead of youth standing on the street corner thinking about doing something mischievous, they can put energy into healthy outlets such as the nontraditional education opportunities provided by WAVES.

The following programs were identified in a participatory approach including home visits and community meetings:
  1. Swim Classes
  2. Surf Classes
  3. Surfboard Repair
  4. Surf Film/Photography
  5. Microcredit
  6. Environmental Education
  7. English Classes

WAVES takes a community-based approach to its programs. For example, before launching a pilot program, meetings were held with the local government, school teachers and community members.

The community diagnostic is not a one-time endeavor. It is an ongoing circle of feedback. Once the pilot program is complete, families of the participants are visited to gather further feedback on what worked, what they liked and what the families would like to see in the future. New programs are developed accordingly. For example, in the case of Lobitos — a number of women mentioned they would like to make and sell t-shirts to the visiting tourists; however, they didn't have the capital to buy the materials. From these conversations a microcredit program was born.

WAVES for Development's request for funding will be used for general operating support. This includes insurance and staff salaries and will enable WAVES to continue to operate the leanly run US-based operation in a professional manner. Volunteers play a critical role in the WAVES model both on the ground and financially. However, their contributions (earned income) are not enough to sustain the program financially. The WAVES International team plays a critical role in recruiting, vetting and orienting the volunteers for their time in Peru. Better volunteer engagement means higher quality programs in Peru for the youth and bigger impacts of volunteers when they return home.