Ola Ola, Peru

Time used: ms

The story of how a container full of donated surf gear barely made it into the country of Peru Never before has the Surfers for surfers foundation faced this many challenges on one mission. Clearing the freight container from harbor customs turned into an exhausting trip that cost the team greatly. However after 3 months of extremely hard work and perseverance the team managed to get it done, a miracle some say. Almost 1000 items have finally been released from custody and are now ready to be distributed amongst the 21 selected surf organizations along the Peruvian coast.

It would be an understatement to say that things didn’t go according to plan. Due to heavy floods, the once very cooperative authorities suddenly had to shift their priorities. Entire area’s of Peru washed away, submerged and unreachable. Many of those area’s included locations where the donations should have gone to. To make matters worse the whole team eventually faced illness due to a lack of clean drinking water, even four days with no water at all. All of this resulted in frustration, but above all, it triggered a feeling of despair. Something the team fought with daily trying to remain positive with a clear end goal in sight: ‘No matter what it takes, these donations will get a new life here in Peru, it can’t be for nothing’.

Alejandro (middle) from Asociacion Huanchaco Surf Peru. One of the foundations that is assisting Surfers for surfers with the organization and distribution in Peru.
Mother nature wasn’t the only one making this a tough mission. A combination of small mistakes with official paperwork snowballed resulting in time consuming and expensive consequences. What should have been a distribution trip alongside the coast, turned out to be a one location maze and back-and-forth game. The team had to stay in a hostel in Lima throughout the entire duration of the trip, spending hours and hours in taxies to customs, local services and ministers trying to negotiate the release of the container. All the time the costs kept on rising.

When boarding the plane to return home after one month all that was left was unfinished business and disbelief: ‘How on earth didn’t this work?’. But after a few incredulous nights, the fires were reignited. ‘This project has to succeed!’ They picked up the phone and fired off the emails. Finally, a message from the harbor customs of Lima arrived: ‘Levante Authorizado’ – the container had been cleared.
In reality, It is the first container to be allowed into the country in 10 years and the only one cleared so quickly! A special moment and a relief, but above all, a very convincing start for the foundation in Peru.

The donations will be distributed by a local team throughout the following months. The foundation will posts updates regarding the drop-offs on their Social Media channels. Furthermore, the foundation hopes to return to the country soon to strengthen newly established connections and to execute upcoming projects with fewer costs and with more efficiency.
Surfers for surfers wants to thank everyone who donated and supported this project in whatever way possible. Thanks to that support the foundation can make projects into a success and grow. Not only physically but especially in knowledge and effectiveness.