Jalian Johnston // South Africa


Jalian with groms

Clean Water Courier Jalian goes to South Africa!

Jalian contacted Waves For Water through Hurley with his reputation as an “artist” surfer from the protected Southern California turf of Palos Verdes.   He was going to South Africa with his girlfriend Corey, who was going to do several months of work with the country’s wildlife.   Along with looking for local inspiration for his art, Jalian wanted to do something for the people. He chose to be a Clean Water Courier.
Jalian tells the story in his own words—If there’s one thing I have learned from traveling and from the worlds’ cultures it’s that it is very desirable to bring offerings when arriving in a new place. Having the filters seemed like the best offering we could give. To provide a family with clean drinking water for years could make the difference between sickness and health, and life and death.

transkei waves

A couple of weeks after arriving in Cape Town, getting our bearings, already scoring some great waves and art finds, we started to ask around about who and where the people were who could benefit the most from these filters.

corey with kids

It was suggested that we save all our filters for the Transkei area. And when we finally got there after a few more weeks of traversing the coastline east we realized why. Transkei is when we really started to feel like we were in Africa. It’s a rural coastal area of the Eastern Cape that was sort of forgotten by the government and is the main dwelling for the Xhosa people (the “X” is pronounced by making a clicking noise, which I find very hard to do!).

coffee bay montessori school

The Transkei is where the houses are round and are made from mud bricks, and the roofs are still mostly made from grass. There is usually about three or four of these huts per plot that literally stretch as far rurally as the eye can see. Each contains a moderate, fenced in area for corn, their staple; and the rest grazing land for mostly cattle and goat, which turns out they were more a status symbol than a food source. On the road you are seeing directly the way these people humbly live — animals everywhere, women carrying things on their heads and walking for days, scruffy-clothed, bare foot kids run out to the car to hold out their hands.

ladies with water

We definitely knew we were in the right place to give these filters away but finding the people who truly needed them and overcoming a language barrier to actually explain to them what we had, and how to use and take care of them was going to be another issue.
We met a helpful American couple in Coffee Bay named Robin and Charlie, who own a lodge there and have been living there for a few years and were very helpful in pointing us in the right direction.

locals with filter

They introduced us to some young, local surfer boys who were all orphans living together in a small mud hut on the hill. How they were surviving I had no idea. Toby was one of the boys I really connected with, I guess cuz he knew a good amount of English and because we would go surf together often. He would tell us crazy stories about people being sick from drinking river water, and that his grandmother actually died from cholera in the river water. The rivers originate from the interior and by the time they get to the “wild coast” area they are often polluted.

toby's home

Anyway, we gave Toby and his friends who lived in the shack a filter so they could filter a nearby stream. They were all so thankful that they don’t have to worry about getting sick from the water. It will make life a little bit easier. And after hearing the filters were a gift from Hurley and Waves For Water that made him even more stoked as he thinks the Hurley brand is really cool! So I left him a Hurley shirt and trunks. He probably had the best day of his life.

jalian with toby

Another filter went to Dawn, a teacher from the U.K., who started Coffee Bay Montessori School. She has about twenty or more children attending, ages 2-6. She was very thankful to receive a filter because the tap is a far walk away and often dirty and shut off. Otherwise they drank the rain water off the roof in a tank. It was so cute seeing Dawn explain the benefits of clean water to young children and the footage we have of their reactions to the taste of clean water is priceless.

young girl drinks from filtered water

Another filter went to the AIDS orphanage on top of the hill — an orphanage where the children had either been affected or infected by AIDS — a very scary and real issue for this area and all of Africa as well. They were very thankful to be able to filter their own water for the children as hauling it from town is expensive for an orphanage that is run on donations. I feel like the filter was a substantial contribution. And again the children were so cute and it felt really good to know that they would be safe from future waterborne illness.

girls drink clean water!

So all in all, Corey and I feel so blessed to have physically seen the direct benefit  to human lives from these filters. It has given this trip so much joy and purpose. Just wanted to thank Hurley and Waves For Water for sponsoring these filters for us to give to the people of the Transkei in need.

Jalian & Corey

durban barrel

durban schwak!

5 Responses to “Jalian Johnston // South Africa”

  1. corey phillips

    This was the most amazing experience, thanks waves for water for letting us be a part of your organization and helping out!!!! lovelovelove

  2. ben

    Fantastic! Just like Jon says, “Do what you love and help people along the way.” Nice job Jalian!

  3. Ryan Kuja

    Awesome story guys! I was stoked to see it as I have spent a bunch of time around Coffee Bay, most recently this past april and may, just after you all left there. I connected amazingly with Dawn and Toby, Lukholo and the boys, surfed with them and just had a grand old time.
    Check out this article about my vision to use surfing as a platform for community development and transformation:

    all the best to you both
    Ryan Kuja

  4. Rachelle

    Just changing lives one filter at a time. So much love you and what you’re doing!


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