Sifiso is a 14-year-old street kid in Durban, South Africa. His parents died of Aids when he was young and he drifted into the city, learning to hustle and survive along the ocean front among the swanky cafes and white surfers. Like the hundreds of others like him, he also learned to bury his despair in sniffing glue, petrol and other chemicals. He was heading for either prison, or an early grave.
Then came Umthombo, a charity that aims to help homeless street kids. One strategy was to teach them to surf. A local surfer, Nisaar Mohamed, gave Sifiso a board and a wetsuit, the charity gave lessons. It’s not an easy progression: most street kids, Sifiso among them, lack the physical strength, the stamina or the powers of concentration to even enter the water, let alone surf. But it can be done: one Umthombo ‘graduate’ has become a member of the South African surfing team.
Sifiso is determined to try and there is a competition to aim for. Can he find the strength? There are tough moments as we watch him attempt to break out of the cycle of despair and destitution. Much of the action takes place on Durban’s spectacular ocean front, an area that was exclusively white under apartheid, then almost derelict and crime-ridden, now on the up as a multi-ethnic area.