Surfing and Tourism Aids Communities in Peru and Nicaragua
WAVES for Development International, founded toward the end of 2004, is a nonprofit organization based in Peru whose mission is to connect tourists and surfers to volunteer opportunities and grassroots initiatives to effectively work together in communities in both Peru and Nicaragua.

One of WAVES commanding principles is to inspire world travel and cultural exchange through surfing as well as spreading social entrepreneurship, healthy living and life skills. WAVES stands for water, adventure, voluntourism, education and sustainability, which encompasses the organization’s five pillars of beliefs and goals.

Water and adventure are associated with the thrill of surfing, something the members of WAVES for Development International live their lives doing. The made up word, voluntourism, captures their goal of connecting tourists with volunteer opportunities to give back to the communities they visit.

These volunteer activities assist locals with education and sustainability, two concepts the organization believes are needed for places to thrive. With the belief that education is highly important in poorer communities, WAVES uses natural and local resources to help developing communities educate their youth and empower them to create bigger and better things.

Another belief they act upon is there are four main aspects to sustainability; ecological, economic, social and political. WAVES’ projects work to assist communities in environmental conservation, safe economic and political practices and to bring the community together as a whole to help with the projects and celebrate their culture.

WAVES connects tourists with volunteer activities in three different categories; surf voluntourism, which allows people to volunteer in surfing communities in Peru and Nicaragua, advocacy and education, where volunteers assist with educating youth to become effective leaders and network of partnerships, in which the volunteerism focuses on the overall convergence of people and organizations who work together to make the world a better place.

The WAVES team consists of volunteers from all over the world, including Spain, South America, Africa and the United States. Team members have come together to assist developing communities in Peru in an effort to bring a new force of individuals to the world.

While the organization was created in Peru and primarily helps communities there and in Nicaragua, WAVES for Development International has recently teamed up with members in and around Montreux, Switzerland to form WAVES Peru and WAVES Switzerland, allowing the two to reach a wider audience and give back to more communities through their shared love of surfing.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: WAVES, Volunteer Match, Great Nonprofits
Photo: Flickr