Neil Christiansen, native of New Jersey and avid surfer, started traveling the world with the idea of creating positive change. In 2011, he found himself in Bocas del Toro and immersed himself in the local community of Bahia Honda. Very quickly he recognized the huge gap in the access to education for the local indigenous communities, and thus was born the idea for Give and Surf.
Henry & Margaret (the original owners of La Loma Jungle Lodge in Bahia Honda) and their 3-year-old son Lucho were key partners in starting Give & Surf's first preschool program in 2011!
Vanesa Milton was Give & Surf's first assistant preschool teacher and continues today as lead teacher of the program!
Emily Talentino joined the Give & Surf family in 2014 and together, she & Neil were able to grow the vision of the organization. Over the next 5 years, thanks to support from many partner organizations & donors, Give & Surf built 8 classrooms for local schools, 3 community centers, and several other projects! Give & Surf now runs 5 year-round educational centers whose programs are led by our amazing team of local teachers and supported by international volunteers.
As a small organization, we are able to continually adapt to the evolving needs of the communities we serve. Over the years, we have added more English classes for all ages, introduced technology & internet into various programs, and expanded services post-pandemic to help close the educational gap and prevent further learning loss.
Neil continues to lead as the President of the Board of Directors and Emily as Executive Director with the shared vision of empowering our local communities and giving them the tools they need to build a brighter future!
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