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Cox's Bazar Boys & Girls Surf Club

Author: Mark Botelho Posted: 2017-04-16

Bangladesh among other countries in the sub-continent and south-east Asia, is known for young girls from poor families being married off as young as 12 years old. There are many reasons fro families to marry off their young daughters, and most have to do with financial hardship. Raising a family is not easy and the responsibility is large regardless of where in the world you are. No one person has the right to chastise parents who have to make a difficult decision about their children. Many believe that they are giving an opportunity to their daughters by finding them a husband, even at an early age. I have personally met many of these mothers and fathers and they are no different than anyone else, other than they tend to be financially very poor with little to no opportunity to better their lot in life.

When I started RampPage as a non-profit organization, I was helping teenage boys who in reality were not in a any better of a situation than the young girls in Bangladesh. They came from broken homes with little to no parent supervision and were not taking advantage of the opportunity that publics schools had to offer. Kristin and I spent our own wealth to ensure that these boys had school supplies and we kept them going to school by using our skateboarding reputation and influence among the skateboarding community. Rashed Islam and Vanessa Rude are doing the same thing as we did, but on a larger scale and they have had great success. They also have a more in depth program and have dedicated a huge amount of time and effort into keeping their club running. 

The Boys & Girls Surf club in a full feature club that started as a way of keeping young girls hawking wares on the beach at a young age from being married off by their families. They originally started by offering surf lessons to the girls, then expanded to skateboarding, life guard training, and teaching them how to read and write. Additionally, they give the girls families monthly food supplies, transportation money, and pay for them to enroll in the local school system. 

Rashed and Vanessa have expanded the program to include the local boys in the area as well. They also now have a semi-permanent classroom where the kids can hangout anytime time they want in a safe place with filtered water, Internet access, and medical supplies. The classroom is where they all meet to checkout surf and skateboards, and attend classes as well as meetings. They also use the classroom to watch movies and just hang out. I've never really seen any club that was so well utilized for being such a simple small space.

Although Rashed and Vanessa have been extremely successful they now face challenges as they are near attaining their official United States non-profit status. With both Rashed and Vanessa soon both to be living in the US distance will play a part in the managing of the club. However with non=profit status, they should have an easier time attaining funds to keep the club running and perhaps even expanding the club services and scope of their program. I've enjoyed my time with the boys and girls of the club and I have a great admiration for both Rashed and Vanessa for the sacrifices they have made to make the lives of the children in Cox's Bazar better than if would have been. If you are interested in helping you can research their organization online to see how you can help.



Rashed Islam
Rashed Islam







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