While 60% of Mozambicans live close to the ocean and most depend on it for their food and livelihood, many of them – and particularly girls – do not know how to swim. So, finding a young female surfer in the coastal town of Tofo Beach is a rare occurrence.
But Julia, 18, is a rather special young lady. Just a year after learning to surf, she has fallen in love with surfing and is now hoping to become an instructor. Mel spoke with her to learn about her journey.
How did you learn to surf?
I learned to surf in Tofo with Narciso Nhamposa, a surfing instructor from the Marine Megafauna Foundation. Before learning I was really afraid of the water, I didn’t feel safe and nobody could teach me. I never thought I would have the opportunity to be a surfer.
Why were you afraid?
I thought I would die if I fell,” she laughed. “But nothing happened. It was quite difficult for me to learn at the beginning but Narciso was a good teacher. It took me a few days to learn how to do it.
That’s really fast!
Yes. I was very scared on the first day but then the fear passed quickly and I grew to really enjoy it.
How do you feel when you surf now?
When I am surfing and catch many waves I feel really happy and it changes my emotions. It gave me a new way of life. I would recommend to any children, and more particularly to girls to try and learn.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope for a future where the surfing will not end. Now, I would like to be a professional surfer or a surf instructor and share my experiences, my past fears and my happiness. I want to be a surfer forever.
What is it like to be a woman in Mozambique?
I don’t know how to explain that exactly. Strangely, I think I find it easy to be a woman here. I think one of the things I find difficult in my life is the problem that I do not know how to write.
Is there anything you would like to change about life in Mozambique?
Yes. Lots of people come to Mozambique to scuba dive but it is very expensive so local people cannot dive. I would like to learn to be a diver. Also, there are very few medical people here. I think it would be good to have more nurses.
How would you encourage someone from overseas to visit your country?
Life is good here in Mozambique. The people get along well and we are happy so it is a nice place to visit. Also, it’s a great place to come on holidays because of the ocean – in Mozambique you can see lots of wildlife like whale sharks and dolphins!
The Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) has launched a new GoFundMe campaign for its flagship education programme, Ocean Guardians, which aims to inspire a new generation of marine conservationists in Mozambique. The initiative combines marine conservation education, life-saving swimming lessons and extra Saturday activities like beach clean ups and ocean safaris to teach young people how to live with and protect the ocean. For more information or to donate, please visit: www.gofundme.com/ocean-guardia