W4W Brings Together Surf Community in Southern India



I arrived with one filter – I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it – I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to assemble it correctly.  All I knew was that I was going to India and I would be working at a surf and yoga retreat called Soul and Surf (S&S) and during my time there, I wanted to help address clean water issues (even if it was in a small way).

I heard about Waves For Water (W4W) a few years ago when a friend of a friend was fundraising to buy filters to bring on a surf trip to Nicaragua.  I talked to her about her W4W experience and she encouraged me to take on a project of my own.  Since then it had been in the back of my mind that on my next surf safari I wanted to be a W4W Clean Water Courier (CWC).

However, when I was planning my surf trip to India, W4W popped into my head only two weeks before I was leaving, so I put up my CWC page and scrambled to try to raise some funds.  Since it was so last minute, I only raised enough to buy one filter, but I figured I could start small and see where it would lead.

After getting settled in at S&S, I started to ask around about potential places to install the filter and I found out that the school right next door to S&S didn’t have clean water for the students to drink.  Instead, they brought one bottle of water from home that was supposed to last them through the whole day in an extremely hot and humid climate.


S&S is situated on beautiful cliffs overlooking the ocean in the small coastal town of Varkala, in the state of Kerala, India.  Most of the water in this area comes from wells or a government water system.  Although the water quality is unknown, there is a high potential for bacterial contamination and transmission of waterborne illness in this developing area. Those that have money in Varkala either buy bottled water or install their own filter systems (although the vast majority of people cannot afford clean water).

Coordinating the installation of the water filter at the school next door took a little more effort than I thought (it was not as simple as just assembling the filter and dropping it off for the students to use).  As I mention, when I first received the filter, I wasn’t even quite sure how to set it up.  But as it turned out, setting up the filter was the easy part because the directions and videos on the W4W website made it so easy, anyone can do it.  The most effort went into getting permission from the principal, redoing the piping and then coordinating a time that we could install the filter and show the kids and teachers how to use it.


The day we installed the filter at the school and showed the kids how to use it, everyone – students, teachers, and S&S staff – was stoked about the project.  At first, it was mass chaos with the kids all wanting to fill up their water bottles.  Then one student took charge and got everyone into a line to fill their bottles one by one.  They were quite excited, to say the least.  After we left the school, the S&S staff started talking about how great it was to do something positive for the school next door and new ideas started circulating about other ways we could connect with the school and local community.

After a few weeks, we went to check with the principal to see if the filter was working properly and being used.  She reported back that it was great and she then asked if we could install another one in a nearby school where she was also the principal.

We started brainstorming ideas on how to raise money for more filters. Then one of the S&S surf instructors said that he wanted to donate the money to buy 10 filters and get more S&S staff, as well as the local surf club, involved in the project.

So, to kick off the new year, the Soul and Surf staff and the Varkala Pirates Surf Club spent about a month setting 10 filters at various spots in the community.  Water filter locations included three schools, a Hindu temple, the community where S&S chechies (local women staff) live and the fishing village at Edava where we always surf.  These filters will provide clean drinking water for 1,000 people for up to 5 years.  Kids can fill up their water bottles throughout the school day.  The fishermen can fill up their water barrels to take with them out to sea.  The chechies will have clean drinking water for their families.

There were many different people that were involved with bringing these filters to people in need.  Many of the S&S staff, as well the local guys from the surf team, were involved with setting up the filters; asking around within the community to see where we should install the filters, and teaching people how to use the filters once they were installed.  Also, the owner of S&S, Ed Templeton, the general manager of S&S India, Rafael Kably and even pro surfer, Sam Bleakley, came to deliver the fillers to the local schools.

One water filter turned into 11 and one person turned into many.  It’s called Waves for Water because the act of providing one filter to a community in need can build energy, like a wave, and bring people together to work toward achieving a greater collective impact.

While these filters aren’t a perfect solution, it’s definitely a start.  Hopefully, someday India will be able to provide clean water for everyone across the country.  But these water filters will make a difference for some of the people in the Varkala community.  And hopefully, those involved in this project will take on a new CWC project on their next surf safari.

This is part of my story and I encourage others to make W4W a part of their story as well.

- Annie Lovell

** Big thank you to Nick for your generous donation, to Soul and Surf for supporting the project and special thanks to CJ for making this all possible.

Photo Credit – Down the Line Photography

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Mission Nicar-Drinkable-Agua Recap



We’re back from our trip, and it went great! Our surf guide helped us find and teach the local families how to use the filters, and we had no problem finding people in need.  We distributed the filters in a split between using the faucet adapters, and connecting them directly to large water bottles, and the locals were very receptive of both methods. We gave the filters out in a few different towns: Playa Santana, El Astillero, El Limon Dos, and El Chacocente.

Check out our mission.


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Sam Church – CWC


Kook on a Bicycle: Canada to Mexico Waves For Water Fundraiser!

Trip Summary…

Wellll I’m not too sure what to say other than it was fully wild. Camping, riding over crazy terrain and through some hectic weather. The scenery was out of this world, I saw a lot of wildlife, I met some awesome people and I ate more food than I ever have in my whole life. I have done my share of travel and this was definitely a new way to travel for me and possibly the best way to explore an incredible coastline.

I was not into cycling at all before this ride and a trip like this had never really crossed my mind until I met another Australian dude living in Canada who goes by the name Sausagerowlz. I lived in Fernie, BC with him and learned how he had arrived in Fernie by bicycle from Miami. He rode with no underpants and his stories are classic. He said he would give me the bike and all the gear for next to nothing if I’d take it on a big ride and I was down. The bike is an old giant mountain bike hybrid. It was not pretty and the suspension did not lock out. But it was comfy and it was perfect for me since a proper touring bike set up means you are not as upright and my only real concern for the trip was my neck that I hurt snowboarding in Fernie. Also, It was the last bike anyone would want to steal. Perfect.

I got the idea for the fundraiser after watching WSL events and seeing W4W advertisements. I have surfed all over Central America and I am planning to drive down there in my Van in the next few months. I was considering being a Clean Water Courier originally then the bike ride idea came up and it was a good opportunity to raise some coin for the Nicaragua Project.

All of my mates in Fernie and mates back in Aus backed the idea and have been generous with donations. The crew at The Pub in Fernie organized a fundraiser night without me knowing until it was already planned and the whole town got behind it.

Then I got a message from someone (legend) who wishes to remain anonymous who said they would donate $1 for every km peddled, but only if I made it the whole way. So I planned to take just about every scenic route and detour I could find, and I did!

After all of that build up and support for the fundraiser I was so psyched for the ride. I didn’t really train other than getting my neck feeling strong as my mate had said “if you look at it on the map, it’s all down hill” so I figured it would be easy! Haha I had a few days of strong headwinds that were draining and I hurt my Achilles and knee early on in the ride mainly from not knowing how to set up my bike properly and use the gears efficiently. I sorted out my bike set up so my legs would last and other than those set backs it was smooth sailing. I didn’t even get a flat tire.

I struggled through the cold of Washington looping around Olympic National Park and then basically stuck to the coast all the way south. I planned on stealth camping a bit but that was a fail. On my first attempt I got a friendly warning shot from someone. I later found out I was probably trying to pitch my tent near their weed plantation. My other failed attempt was under a bridge but I was soon evicted by the bridges more permanent residents. After that I settled for State Parks which are epic in Washington and Oregon. $5 for a site, hot shower and bench if you are a hiker/biker. I was usually the only one there, particularly up north, which was rad.

The Oregon coast was mind blowing. If I had stopped to take pictures every time I wanted to I would still be in Oregon. Northern California was equally picturesque. I got to camp in the redwoods, ride through Big Sur, ride through some iconic surf towns and ride along the coast on some crazy roads that I would definitely have missed if I were to drive the coast. Getting through LA was chaos but not as bad as I had anticipated. The ride ended with two days of insane rain and even some flash flood warnings in Southern California. I was soo psyched to hit the Mexican border and do what I had set out to do that it didn’t phase me at all. I was smiling like a full on mad man in the rain on the final leg of the ride.

In the end I rode 2,880km in 28 days from Vancouver to the Mexican Border. I can’t really express how awesome the whole experience has been. I got to have an epic adventure while raising money for a charity that is doing great things. Once my anonymous sponsor pays per km the fundraiser will have made close to $6000US. Stoked!!!

Attached are some of my favourite pics I took on the ride. Cheers!!!

Becky Mendoza – CWC



Becky Mendoza, from Encinitas, CA started her Clean Water Courier mission to raise money for her second trip to Nicaragua. Click here to see her fundraiser . After her trip in 2013, Becky returned with a purpose to serve. A great example of doing what you love and helping along the way.

Thank you Becky!!

See video of Becky’s experience.

Here is a recap of her experience.

CWC Project: Clean Nica-Agua

Well, I’m back from my 3 week surf expedition through Nicaragua, and I’m recharged, rejuvenated and more inspired than ever. After a month of fundraising through the W4W CWC Program, I raised just over $2,700 which was enough to purchase 54 water filters.

On October 30, I flew to Managua. With the help of my friends, Aura and Sarah, who are both living in Hacienda Iguanas in Southern Nicaragua, I was able to distribute about 28 filters in the area. I was lucky that Mark & Dave’s Surf Camp had a shed full of buckets with lids that they told me I could help myself to. Through Aura and Sarah, and some other friends in the area, and through speaking with people everywhere I went, I came to know of a few of the workers at Iguanas who lived in communities in the area that all had wells, but no access to clean drinking water. This was the story, time and time again, so we built and hand-delivered several filter buckets in the surrounding areas.

We also built the buckets and gave them to some of the workers at Iguana’s who expressed a need. I handed off 6 to Kristin from Surfari Charters who knew of an area in need that was challenging to get to, and gave one to the Iguana’s school and one to Aura for her land and her newly built well. Catherine from W4W had put me in touch with Lance and Kristin of Surfari Charters in the area. I would surf 2-3 times a day, in the mornings and evenings, and some days I would go into the communities and distribute. My heart was overflowing with love!

On November 8, Aura, Sarah and I made the 6 hour car trip to Northern Nicaragua, to Hotel Chancletas. Catherine had put me in contact with Ben and Jamie who run El Coco Loco Resort and have a foundation called Waves of Hope. Ben and another El Coco Loco employee, Lester, arrived to pick me up and we went home-to-home distributing filters. We distributed 10 that day before running out of buckets. I left the remaining filters with Ben. What I learned that day about the work the Waves of Hope is doing for the community was the most inspirational thing I’ve ever learned. They are doing things that are bigger than most of us could imagine and they are doing it with such grace and humility. They have teamed up with W4W in the area to make sure that each household in the community has access to clean drinking water.

Overall, I can say this experience has left some major footprints on my heart and has inspired me in ways I could never have imagined. I recently read this quote which resonated with me: “The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is” –Jim Carey. There is no way that this journey ends here for me, it is only the beginning. Like the W4W motto says: “Do what you love and help along the way.” It was so simple, a small labor of love made my life so rich! I hope that you will be a part of future projects by donating and sharing!


Chloe Simpson – Clean Water Courier

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Waves For Water would like to thank Chloe Simpson for her Clean Water Courier mission in Nicaragua. This story is a great example of how the program works.

Chloe Simpson  – 22 Filters Donated in Nicaragua.

 ”I just wanted to share photos from my trip to Nicaragua last week. I first learned about your program at the Hurley Pro Trestles in 2013. It was great timing, as I was considering what to do for my 8th grade project. I fundraised 22 filters within a month and with the help of my mom, Ben Edwards and Kimi (from Mark & Daves in Hacienda Iguana), found locations in Nicaragua to donate. We have made five water filter drops in total. This has been a very meaningful experience and I’ve learned so much from it. The support from others to jump in and help, in so many ways, was amazing. Thank you for the inspiration for this life changing experience.”


Chloe Simpson

1st Water Filter Drop 1/26/14.

We donated our first 5 filters to Bo Fox, founder of Project WOO (Waves of Optimism). He’s opening a clinic in Gigante this month and had not figured out a clean water source at the time I contacted him. These will be utilized in the staff room, waiting room and any other areas of need at the clinic.

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2nd Water Filter Drop 1/29/14

5 filters donated @ Centro Escolar El Malinche, a school outside of Hacienda Iguana.We donated 1 Filter for the school and 4 for the neighbors to share.  Liz Todd and Kimi Tasker were awesome translators!!



3rd Water Filter Drop. 1/31/14

5 filters donated in Limon Uno.  All filters will be shared by the village residents.



4th Water filter Drop. 1/31/14

2 filters donated to Gabriel Devic, for his afterschool program at Una Esquelita, serving approximately 40 students.



5th Water Filter Drop. 2/2/14

Last 5 filters were donated to “Building Love”/ “Helping Hands with Hearts for Christ”. The couple (Mike and Joan Vilasi) that runs a school for the hearing impaired, on Ometepe Island will use one or two filters at the school and the others will go to schools and homes outside the Rivas area. These exchanged hands at the airport, on our way out. drop5


Liberia Distribution



Bold orange earth and the sweet smell of sap dripping from tall, green rubber trees set up the candy-coated contrast that is Liberia. Banana yellow dresses against the midnight of she skin. Red-headed Agama lizards perched chest puffed on concrete block walls painted blue.

Happy to have my boots on the ground again. It’s hot in equatorial Africa. Have you heard!?

Today we did a distribution in the worst slum in Liberia. A dark and heavy place called West Point. Muscle and threat everywhere. Black-skinned predators lining the unpaved paths while others dart this way and that on motorbikes honking horns. The thick stink of feces dried by mean sun clashes with babies’ innocence on resigned mommas’ backs. Pregnant teens walk slowly dragging their worn sandal heels aware at once of women’s power and vulnerability in the ghetto. Children are much the same as anywhere running and playing and staring curiously. Cute and yet untarnished by hardships of a hard life. These wear more dirt than clothes and show no concern that most of them will never make it past 15.
We did our benevolent deed and made a few friends before moving on. There were many smiles and much appreciation. Some were shocked that we chanced it in there but could tell we go without fear.
There’s no guard like intention. When you legitimately come to help, animosity is confused and diffused. It’s always a profound confirmation that head-to-head good beats bad.

We made way back to the hotel sweaty, sun-cooked and silent..in our heads about the day. Driving along a stretch of rural highway I saw a man wearing only a loin cloth walking on the side of the road. He gently forked the ground with a skinny tree branch-for-walking-stick as if pacing himself for a million steps. His blackest skin smeared grey over chest and shoulders with a muddy shield. I thought to myself how tribal, wild, fresh out the bush he looked – like a scene in Africa. Then it hit me that this actually is Africa.
christian troy

Tom Servais and Brett Whittaker on a mission to help local Fijians



My good friend and legend surf photographer, Tom Servais, recently reached out to me before going down to Fiji – a place he likes to call his second home. Tom has been supportive of W4W since the beginning but with the recent and very unfortunate floods that hit Fiji, Tom now has a first hand connection to this work. Basically, he is another great example of how our Clean Water Courier program works. He was already going to Fiji when his good friend Brett Whittaker (who lives in Fiji full time) reached out and said that many areas had been devastated by the floods – and one of their main needs was clean water. So Tom rallied and bought as many filters as he could. He brought them down there, met up with Brett, and got to work helping the flood victims. He has since returned with a whole new perspective on this work and how easy it was to make such a big and positive impact. This is what the CWC program is all about – self empowerment thru doing what you love to do and helping along the way. The following pics were taken by Tom during his trip and he has now made it his mission to raise more funds to get more filters down there. “There are still so many people in need”, he says. We’ve also included his personal “call to action” letter that he is spreading around to get support. Feel free to contact us or him directly if you feel like helping his and Brett’s initiative. I’m proud to call Tom a friend and a CWC!!


Jon Rose

Bula*,  I was recently in Fiji and spent a day with a friend, Brett Whittaker (he works closely with the Fijian Government), photographing villages that were devastated by the floods in early April.  Brett and his small crew have been working non-stop since then, as the floods have displaced and made life very difficult for many Fijians.  People were stranded on their roofs, since the water rose that high in low lying flood zones, where many poor people live.  Brett and his crew have raised a lot of money, supplies, food, water, etc to help the best they can.  In disasters, clean water is one of the most important short term goals.  I’m hoping that you will help Brett and the Fijian people by buying one or more filters that I can send down to Fiji.  Our goal is 500 water filters, please help us the best you can.  The cost is $50 per filter, which will provide up to 300 gallons of clean water per day, and 100% of your donation(water filters) goes straight to the source, none of your donation is used for anything except the water filters you purchase and forward to me.  There are “No” administration costs!  Brett will take care of getting them to the villages and show the Fijians how to use and maintain them.  He is working entirely out of his love to help other less fortunate people, his only payment is seeing the joy in Fijians faces when he and his crew help them.  Believe it or not, the most important thing to the Fijian people, is knowing that someone cares! You can go to this link, http://blog.wavesforwater.org/store/, and purchase the filters and have them shipped to me at; Tom Servais, 34056 Zarzito Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629. Or you can send donations to me directly and I’ll handle the filter purchasing – whatever you feel more  comfortable with. You can count on myself and Brett to distribute these to the villages who need them most. Any questions, please feel free to email me - tomservais@earthlink.net
Please have a look at these photos to get an idea of how lucky we are and how much just $50 can help a small village without clean drinking water.  Thanks for listening, and please don’t feel obligated, just an opportunity to help the Fijians and know that 100% of your donation goes directly to them.    Love, aloha and vinaka**,  Tom.
*Bula, hello in Fiji.
**Vinaka, thanks

Project Nicaragua



I often describe Waves For Water, ultimately, as an empowerment project… obviously the people who receive the help are empowered when they have access to clean water, in some cases, for the first time in their life. But the other side to this is what happens to the person administering the help – through our model that we like to call “do it yourself” (DIY) humanitarianism or “guerrilla” humanitarianism, the person who has chosen to take it upon themselves and provide aid to communities in need is ABSOLUTELY empowered as well. It’s like the whole ‘pay it forward’ philosophy, but supercharged. To put it simply, when a young eager surf adventurer sets out on his/her path to find epic waves – but decides to throw some of our clean water filters in their bag to offload along the way, they have just made a dynamic choice that will completely alter their experience – and all of those around them. Think of the filter as the missing link… a bridge of sorts that connects and engages people on a level that wouldn’t happen otherwise. There are the obvious and primary benefits this program provides from a health standpoint. But the real magic happens when a random traveler finds the local beneficiary that they’ve chosen to help and starts to engage with them in a way that could never be accessed as just another surfer passing through. There is a REAL interaction that takes place when the traveler starts to educate and train their beneficiaries with this solution… In the end, the recipient has a new found knowledge of the water problems they face, but also in a solution to help them combat it every step of the way. And the traveler, has a completely new understanding of this community/culture, and a genuine personal relationship with the people in it.

Empowerment all around
- The communities finally now have the tools to help them start building towards the progress they all long for.
- The traveler, most importantly, followed their heart and went surfing (or whatever else it was that drove them out on the road) and did their part along the way. They actually did the most natural thing we can do as human beings – help one another. It’s these types of simple actions that help to restore the natural balance of humanity.

So that said, it really becomes a very clear equation for anyone to participate in…

It REALLY is this simple folks…

One of the beneficiaries of our clean water program

On that note, we were recently asked by Lance and Kristin Moss of Surfari Charters in Nicaragua to partner with them in launching our program for the villages around their camp. This type of mission obviously speaks directly to the core of what our organization was originally founded on – adventure surf travel. We accepted their offer and looked at it as the perfect case study to prove a model I’ve had in my head for a long time – one where surf/adventure tourism is infused (not bombarded) with a little more purpose.
The idea was that once went down and helped Lance and Kristin set up some good trusty local networks to implement the program to – then all of their charters for the rest of the year can have the option of bringing filters down during their week to help reinforce those networks…

It’s creating a very user-friendly sustainable supply chain that rides comfortable on the coattails of peoples love for surfing and fishing. It’s not a new concept, I believe Nihiwatu Resort in Sumba, Indonesia has a program where all their guests get to take one day out of their trip and help the nearby village through a number of projects they’ve set up. The philosophy is also being coined “Volunteerism” these days. I just like to call it – doing our part!

W4W and Surfari crew with local village

So, we went down to Nicaragua, brought 30 filters (enough to provide 3000 people with access to clean water) and set up three local networks with them. Since our trip every one of Lance & Kristin’s charters has personally bought, carried, and implemented more filters to those networks.
It’s a model that is thriving and growing with each passing week. The last and probably most fun element of this mission was having some good ol’ froth-mouthed grommets along with us – young LA based pro-surfer shredder, Dane Zaun, and his trusty filmmaker sidekick, Matt Grote. Their energy and stoke was a nice reminder of what W4W is all about… and a refreshing break from some of the heavier projects we’ve done recently in places such as Afghanistan and Haiti.
We surfed our brains out… threw back a hefty share of Toña’s (local Nicaraguan beer), helped a bunch of local people with the basic yet ESSENTIAL need for clean water, and had a shit-load of fun in the process…
Matt made a video of the trip that shares the experience thru Dane’s eyes… On behalf of W4W, I’m happy to share it with you all… I feel it’s a great snapshot into the innocence and purity that comes from doing what you love, and helping along the way.
In addition to Hurley stepping up (as always!) I’d like to throw a shout-out to Lance, Kristen, and the entire crew at Surfari Charters for initiating this. Lastly, I need to throw out BIG props to W4W Executive Director, CHRISTIAN TROY, for really running point on this project and making it come to life from our end… Well done crew!!

Christian Troy with examples of dirty water & clean filterd water

See you all around the next corner…

Clean Water Courier Mission // Vanishing Cultures Foundation // Expedition Peru



In the words of Clean Water Courier Denise Kinch:
Our 2012 VCF Expedition, including 16 people from all over North America, traveled to the Iquitos area of Peru where it was beautiful, sad, and rewarding all at the same time.   We found the conditions very horrendous.   The Amazon and tributaries leading to the Amazon River were 15- 20 feet above normal.

This has been consistent since June 2010.   I was there 2 years ago and was speechless at the destruction of the local villages in every level.   There are no schools in session because they are under water.   The churches are all under water.   The local stores are gone. Life, which usually relies on the water, now completely exists and is at the mercy of the river.

The water is full of filth.   Trash, debris, sewage, garbage, oil, all floating in the river.   There is no place for anything to go except into the river.   The elders say this is the worst condition anyone has ever seen.

Old house under water with new house in front

We were speaking to a man whom has spent 5 years building and digging wells to bring clean water to the people.   Every single well has been flooded and is of no use—5 years of work destroyed!

village coming for supplies

When our VCF group arrived we were carrying school supplies, basic dental supplies, and W4W filters.   There were so many in need we did not know where to start.   So we decided to start at a small village we worked with last year.   Our last visit to this visit was magical.   It reminded us all of the land in the movie of Avatar, enchanting and mystical.   The people loved the land and were working to preserve it for future.

Upon our arrival, we found an entirely different place— the people were the same full of hope and joy however the land did not exist.   This village was gone.   All the houses were under water, they were building new houses higher up attached to the old houses. No land to play on, no land for the animals to exist on, no grazing, no farming, barely existing.   Only fish was a regular food source, fish from a very polluted river.

House completely under water

We began our distribution of school supplies and health care supplies on a five-foot front porch of a recently rebuilt home. The entire village came on boats, it was the only way.   Everyone tried to fit on the small porch, it began to sway from the weight however no one seemed to notice.   After all the supplies were distributed, the children all went and waited in the boats.

It was time for the Water filters to be disturbed—.we had many families and only 11 filters.   How could we decide who should receive them?????   We could not choose so allowed the village members to decide.

The mayor received one, the largest families received one, the center families received one, they all decided who should get one, it was an amazing process to watch since everyone wanted and needed one.   Everyone seemed happy with the results. If they did not exist in the belief of ayni, everything will be equal and balanced, they would not be existing today.