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Ntando Msibi- From Street Kid to Pro Surfer.

Why are you here? What is your purpose on earth?

Not many give these questions any thoughts as they journey through life, eventhough every one should, for we are all here for a purpose; to fill a gap, create solutions and change existing narratives.

Sometimes we feel we don’t have all we need or desire to be able to make a meaningful impact, but really we have all it takes; the strength, the opportunities and even the abilities. The problem is that we often fail to realize this truth, because we simply do not know what stuff we are made of or what we are capable of.

Ntando Msibi

Ntando Msibi could have convinced himself that he is just an unimportant part of a whole, an unwanted specimen of humanity without any form of potential to leave a legacy or make meaningful impact in the society, but then, he would be deceiving himself, for everyone alive on earth was created with a purpose and empowered to make a difference.

The antecedents of Ntando Msibi’s birth didn’t offer much, he grew up wandering the streets of South Africa in despair never sure of each day’s meal or what his future may bring.

Born in Durban KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Ntando lost his mother a few years after his birth. He had no means of fending for himself; he therefore opted for the streets.

“She died in 2005. Then I stayed with my grandma until I ran away. When I was here in the streets, everyone vanished. My grandma died, my other uncle died and it was just me,” recalled Ntando Msibi.

Ntando Msibi

But unlike many in his shoes, he looked forward to a day that he will be so free that he would sail with the wind, align with purpose and achieve his dreams. He just believed in the prospects of tomorrow and so he waited earnestly for his opportunity.

It came eventually when he was 15. On the same streets he wandered aimlessly and went without food for days, opportunity embraced him.

The Umthombo team found him, and helped him discover his potentials. He was also placed with a mentor, an older brother figure who devoted his time to helping him grow mentally, socially and even physically.

Dedicated to transforming street children by giving them opportunities and helping them discover their potentials through surfing, the programme has become a treasure in South Africa and has seen many street kids swap addictions for surfing. It has served as a successful strategy for getting them off the streets and into programmes with psychosocial support.

Ntando Msibi

The transformation process wasn’t without hurdles though, as the young kids coming from the streets always had the challenge of overcoming addiction.  Most of them sniff glue and other harmful substances to remain high. “The worst thing that ever happened to me while I was in the street, was sniffing glue,” recalled Ntando. But through surfing, many have been able to overcome addiction.

“Surfing has helped us a lot. It’s like a drug you get addicted to, a ‘good’ drug. It helps you with the physique, you learn patience. Guys can be on the water from morning to afternoon to evening,” told Vukani Mhluzi – Surfers Not Street Children. –

The programme is designed as high-intensity engagement meant to consume and excite the children and provide a precious break from street life and glue sniffing. The psychosocial work addresses the traumas that the children have faced. This fusion was designed to lead street children towards alternatives to street life.

Ntando left Umthombo in 2013, a changed person and a surfing pro ready to take the world. He was also enrolled into school and is well on his way to a professional surfing career. His surfing sponsors are Oneill (wetsuits and clothing), Kustom shoes, Von Zipper sun glasses, Hurricane accessories and SAEL for Clayton surfboards.

Ntando Msibi

The seventeen year old pro surfer is now ranked no.4 in the country in his age group, having placed fourth in the South African Championships at the legendary Jeffrey’s Bay.

In 2014, the surf icon won the elite division in the 3rd annual Kushayi’igagasi Surf Contest, an annual event, which provides a platform for surfers from the Umthombo and Surfers Not Street Children programmes at Dairy Beach in Durban.

Despite the numerous challenges he faced, Ntando produced his second Kushayi’igagasi victory in a row and secured him R4000 in cash and an all expenses, mentored surf trip to Mozambique, courtesy of the SA Surfing Legends.

“Surfing is my passion. My hope for the future is tell other people that there’s always a way to get out of the worst situations. Tell them about us, show them that there’s hope,” Ntando declares.

He has simply found his passion and he can’t let go.

Find your passion and go after it with courage. You are unstoppable!

Lovelyn Okafor
Lovelyn Okafor
Lovelyn Okafor is a Journalist/Writer, Poet, Lawyer and God-Lover. She enjoys a good read and sees everyday as an opportunity to live and enjoy her calling whilst working towards perfecting it. She believes that someday soon, Africa will reach her full potential as the light-bearer of the world. You can find her on Twitter: @lovelyn_o

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