Shafiek Khan interview for iwishusun

Shafiek Khan

Surfer & founder of Palama Metsi surfing school – South Africa

When Cathy Boom went to South Africa a few months ago she met Shafiek Khan by chance but then ended up in a long conversation in which he shared the story of his life. This story is an impressive one, so impressive that we couldn’t resist but ask him to be our friend and teach even more people how to enjoy life and do good at the same time. Why? Because Shafiek Khan is one of these few lucky people: he is a passionate surfer, and in 2008 he founded the Palama Metsi surfing school to help underprivileged children in South Africa. Here he offers free surfing and ocean safety lessons but also puts the kids back into schools.

Today, in 2014, there are three schools up and running (in Muizenberg/Cape Town, Elandsbaai and Coffee Bay/Transkei). Hundreds of kids have already benefited from the schools, getting them off the streets, working for their future, academically as well as receiving outstanding results in national surfing contests. We are very glad to welcome Shafiek Khan as our friend!

What is the most important sense to you?
They are all incredibly important but if I had to chose one, then definitely my eyes. They are my greatest learning tool. There is just so much to learn through reflection.

What is your vision for your personal work?
My vision would be totally different from what the kids envision for themselves. So it’s totally in their hands. But if I had a choice it would be to give those who need it and want it a better education. Education is freedom and a great way to get rid of poverty.

In which way do free surfing and ocean safety lessons help the youth to improve their lives in general?
Wow, so many… they become responsible, it adds dignity to their lives, a sense of belonging. It humbles them, when not in control. It brings with it a sweet patience, the swell coming and wind blowing, realising that it’s not always what we want. Discipline, team building, ocean awareness i.e. knowledge of the tides the wind, currents, fish dangers etc. We live with what nature provides and have fun, no matter what.

Surfing means travelling, always in search of the best waves and sports. Which location was the best you ever discovered?
Ha, ha, ha, you got me! I don’t like choosing which lady rides the best. I think locally Kalk Bay, as that took me to hospital after I had such a deep barrel. Then Elands, what a gem. Abroad definitely G-Land in East Java, because it scared me so much, but with it came an immense amount of knowledge and a silent humbleness. Also Jeffreys Bay, Victoria Bay, Namibia…. But the best waves are the ones you can share with your friends and loved ones. Yeah, even if it’s just 2ft.

What is the most beautiful thing you ever saw?
The birth of all my kids, my wife’s smile, my pilgrimage, but most of all it’s when you help the needy. It’s in their eyes… Yeah, that rocks and moves my heart.

What would you like to see more often?
Change… within us as humans.

Blind people and those who can see surely experience the world in different ways. How would you describe the world to someone who suffers from an irreversible loss of sight in one sentence? 
I wouldn’t do that, as it would only add a sickness of not belonging to their hearts. But if I had to: it feels like those who care for you and see only love.

When was the last time you gave back and what did you do?
Normally I don’t like saying what I do secretly for others unless I am asked. I gave honey to an 86-year-old man who cycles over 20km ever day, just for work so that he can take care of his sick wife. What a MAN! Today, getting wetsuits organised for my project so that the kids can stay longer in the water and some boards.

What is your tactic for making the world a better place (besides running your surfing school)?
Bringing back trade and getting rid of our monetary system based on interest on debts and credits. Yeah, good luck with that, mate…. Teaching those less fortunate than ourselves so that they can make a difference and give pure modesty back to our women, the born leaders of all generations. YOU GIRLS ROCK!

Who is your personal hero?
Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him.