If you live in Bangladesh, unless you’re a fisherman, you’ve probably never been in the ocean above your knees.In the 1990s Jafar Alam was probably the only surfer in Bangladesh.He taught himself how and didn’t get it that you’re supposed to stand up on a surfboard until he had been doing it for a few years.
A group called “Surfing the Nations,” headquartered in Hawaii, figured there had to be surfing opportunities somewhere in Bangladesh.They found Jafar and the Bangladesh Surf Club that he started.At one point early on, Jafar said to Kahana Kalama of Surfing the Nations, Ineed “Gum for My Boat.” He didn’t know surfing well enough to say he wanted wax for his surfboard.
The film, “Gum for My Boat” presents a preposterously wonderful speck of hope in a country where half the population lives on about one dollar per day.Ten times as many people live in Bangladesh as there are in Illinois, although they’re about the same size.
Among other things, “Surfing the Nations” brought a surfing contest to Bangladesh.It was covered by local and international television stations. The kids were treated to breakfast, probably the first meal most had ever had in a restaurant. They were shown that they were worth people spending money on them.They were worth people’s time.
This event for kids was a proud family event. Fahad, a 13 year old won in four categories and gave his total prize money of 20 dollars to his mom.Mind you, a visit to a surfer kid’s home would likely reveal eight or ten people living in one room.Some kids in the body board competition were right off the street, and probably didn’t know how to swim.Girls competed, although when these Bangladeshi girls become women, they may be forbidden to go in the ocean.
Folks from Surfing the Nations taught the surf club kids to help other kids.This included helping this odd relief organization to hand out food, medicine, and other provisions. Along with seeding the idea of helping others, surf club kids get the notion that they might rent surfboards to others or teach surfing or teach swimming.This is a job horizon at least as promising as driving a rickshaw, and it’s more distinguished and more fun.
The pro surfer helping these children said, “These kids are more stoked on surfing than anyone I've ever met.” All this happens on a coastline where a three-foot wave is about as good as it gets.You’ll be stoked with an infectious dab of joy and hope watching “Gum for My Boat.”