When you see a sophomore girl selling towels in Red Square next month to raise money for a charity, know this: she could have been in movies.
But lifelong surfer Emi Koch (COL ’12) turned down that opportunity years ago to start an international non-profit to support opportunities for impoverished children instead. Now, she’s head of Beyond the Surface, International, a group that raises money to support centers where underprivileged children in Peru, South Africa, and India can learn to surf—a positive activity, Koch said, for children in poor communities where there usually aren’t alternatives.
“In Western society, we’re so used to having a Boy Scout group a Girl Scout group, or a volleyball club,” she said, “but there they don’t really have anything like that, so this gives them more self-empowerment and more self-confidence.”
In Peru, the center Beyond the Surface sponsors works with providing children with an activity after school. The second center is located in South Africa, where Koch said it serves as more of a rehabilitation clinic. Sniffing glue has become a popular drug addiction among the children in the community where the center is located, she said, and the surfing serves as a tool for rehabilitation. The third center, located in India, is dedicated to keeping kids out of violent street gangs. The center tries to get children off the streets by replacing their gang with a home in the life of surfing.