In January of 2011 Give & Surf was born on a one way trip to Panama. Give & Surf’s founder, Neil Christiansen, moved to Panama to spearhead his desire for helping others. As luck and fate would have it Neil was introduced to a new life and the indigenous community of Bahia Honda on Bastimentos Island by his adopted family La Loma Jungle Lodge. With the love and support of this family Neil and friends started the volunteer life by constructing a playground funded by Gary and Marj Young, wonderful guests and supporters of La Loma. During this time Neil learned about the community while developing trust and respect with the community members. After learning firsthand about the public education provided to this marginalized indigenous community, La Loma and Neil decided to provide the preschool and kindergarten aged children of the community with daily school. As this program flourished the support trickled in. Within two years Give & Surf developed into a volunteer run organization that offered the community of Bahia Honda numerous education programs as well as new education facilities including a library, playground, water catchment system, cafeteria, and new school room for preschool.
In the spring of 2013 the Give & Surf family set their sights on working with a neighboring indigenous community, Bahia Roja. During the remainder of 2013 and 2014 the work of Neil, Give & Surf employees, and hundreds of volunteers in this community has led to significant improvements to the education and facilities used by students and community members. Through volunteer support Give & Surf has built a new elementary school, cafeteria, bathroom/septic tank, community dock as well as development an adult english program, early childhood learning center, elementary school english program, summer school, student scholarships to 17 students, and new to 2014 a surf outreach program for middle school aged children.
Future plans for 2015 include the first education program for the community of Solarte, a new computer learning center!
Stay tuned as the future of Give & Surf grows!