Saved By The Beach

“Survivor of a mob justice attack, “Dimza”‘s life has been transformed by the beach and Waves for Change.

How did you spend your New Year break?

Vuyani Makebe spent his on the beach, working as a newly qualified lifeguard. Why is this significant? Firstly, but for the timely intervention of a police officer 18 months ago, Vuyani Makebe would now be dead. Secondly. Vuyani dropped out of school in grade 4. Now 22 years old, the beach, quite literally, has saved his life.

Vuyani “Dimza” Makebe joined Waves for Change Monwabisi following the programme’s opening in July 2012. He was a daily presence at the beach and had an obvious passion for the water, despite his limited swimming ability. Through the programme he learnt to swim, caught his first waves and began volunteering, with an aim to join the coaching staff in 2013. Then in November, he arrived at the beach barely recognisable. His face swollen with heavy bruising around his neck and shoulders.

Vuyani had been implicated in the burglary of a house, harbouring goods stolen by a few of his friends. At midnight a Community Watch Group came looking for him, directed to his house by the same friends who had stolen the goods Dimza was storing for them. He was dragged outside and beaten with shambocks, battons and pangas whilst the group tried to set light to his small shack. At this point the police intervened and dispersed the crowd. Dimza spent a weekend in jail, arriving at the beach again on the Monday.

Dimza’s situation was that of many young school dropouts, facing a hopeless struggle to find work and surviving as best he could. Dimza lived at home with his mother, surviving off the money she made selling frozen chickens in Mitchells Plain and donations sent back from their Grandmother’s pension in the Eastern Cape.

In 2013 we placed Dimza under the mentorship of 2 Waves for Change coaches in an effort to get him into a new group of friends. He attended morning programming, improving his surfing whilst being regularly monitored. In the second half of 2013, we offered Dimza a short-term contract to assist with basic maintenance of the W4C centre at Monwabisi. He continued to surf and his swimming improved. At the end of the year, thanks to our partnership with International Inspiration and the Monwabisi Surf Lifesaving Club, we were able to place Dimza on a Lifeguard Training course. He passed.

Today Dimza is a qualified lifeguard. More than that, he’s become a key asset to Waves for Change. Alongside our other coaches, he’s able to ensure the increased safety of Waves for Change students on the beach and in the water.

But it goes deeper still. The money Dimza pulls in through his Lifeguarding brings vital income to a house whose principal source of income is a grandmother’s pension. In communities where up to 40% of young adults don’t complete school, the beach and the ocean offer a genuine way out. Surfing is just the way in.

We’d like to thank International Inspiration for making it possible to place Dimza and our other Waves for Change coaches through training this year. We also extend our thanks to everyone whose monthly contributions keep Waves for Change on the beach and in the community. Your generosity makes our work possible.