Give and Surf
Who they are
Give and Surf was created in 2011 after its founder, Neil Christiansen, realized that communities in Bocas del Toro had inadequate and unsatisfactory educational facilities available for the local children. In response, he partnered with local business owners, Margaret Ann and Henry Escudero, to create a volunteer-driven organization that has grown into a family of staff members, volunteers, parents, students, and teachers who are connected by their passion for achieving positive change in indigenous communities.
What they do
Give and Surf serves over 1000 students in seven different communities in the Bocas del Toro Province. In Bahia Honda and Bahia Roja, they are the primary providers of preschool, kindergarten, summer school, English classes, and extracurricular activities. They also offer teen and adult classes in five indigenous communities. Additionally, they have completed over 40 development projects including the construction of community centers and classrooms.
Why they do it
Although Panama usually ranks above other central American nations when it comes to key indicators such as literacy rates and living standards, this is not the case for many indigenous groups in Bocas del Toro. Due to the remote location of these communities, they have extremely limited access to education, medical care, and other basic necessities. The growing tourism industry has also infringed upon indigenous lands and increased the cost of living. To protect their culture and ensure future employment opportunities, Give and Surf is committed to educating and empowering these communities.
While in Bocas del Toro, SStS will work in the community centers run by Give and Surf that support English language instruction and other activities run by local leaders in three different villages. In addition to teaching, the group will help to maintain several local schools through painting and other beautification projects. They will also have the chance to interact with younger students while visiting their pre-kindergarten programs.