Words by Leah Dawson and Mariposa surfers
All photos by Jianca Lazarus.
Sisterhood is a fascinating feeling that rises from being united with a group of women. A friendship where competition dissolves, egos are left at the door, and there's a safe space to express and discuss what it feels like to be a woman.
The Changing Tides Foundation was created by a sisterhood of friends through our mutual love for the ocean. With a desire to help give back along all of our travels, the heartbeat of our foundation was born.
One element of our work involves collaborating with existing non-profits who work with gender disparities. The Mariposa Foundation, based on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, is a model organization for how to change generational poverty. With 150 female participants ranging from elementary age through high school, the foundation teaches girls how to swim, about the environment, gardening, sewing, music, furthering education (where the local schools leave off) and much more. And for those who want to, the girls can join the surf program.
For CTF’s visit, a group of Mariposa surfers was selected for a weeklong ocean skills immersion, as well as exploring the bonds of sisterhood. The following is an account of our participants’ unique feelings about the ocean, and their recognition of the environmental issues they face.
“Mariposa makes me feel like an empowered female because I can learn more things. For example, I didn’t know how to swim and so they taught me here. I thought “Oh wow! I can swim, I can do more things.” - Naomi
“To me, the ocean is a mystery. Only 10% of the ocean has been discovered. I would love to discover another percent of it because I love it. I love the ocean’s animals, and the color of the ocean.” - Nicole
“To me, the ocean means a lot because when I am at the beach, surfing, running, or bathing, I feel free. I can be myself. I can enjoy the sun and the breeze.” - Sori
“Well, aside from the fact that there is mostly saltwater on the entire planet, 79%… I love it because the ocean offers me so many things: a healthy body so I can swim, run, and surf. In addition, I love the ocean because I love the feeling when I am trying to catch a wave and the wave takes me.” - Katiana
“This is our home and we can’t contaminate her. Because if we contaminate it, then we all would die. I love surfing because it feels like I am flying.” - Sujedi
“When I go to the beach, it is something I enjoy because I do the things I like with love, and when you do the things you enjoy with love, everything works out well.” - Icha
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To donate to Changing Tides and take their Plastic Swear Jar Challenge, click here.
Follow Leah Dawson on Instagram and find out the next showing of her film, "Sameseas" that is a deeper look at the women of the Mariposa Foundation, click here!