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Raising a generation of confident African young women through surf therapy.

SURF THERAPY

SOMA

Surfers Proud
of  African Women

Surfistas Orgulhosas na Mulher d’África
(PT, sigla)

In São Tomé island, surfing was only for boys like household duties were only for girls.

But that started to change in 2020 when the first group of local girls surfed for the first time in the history of the country!
About us
Rosy Felíx
culture & community manager
" SOMA is an NGO that aims to empower African girls. When I work with SOMA, I feel very happy to help other girls like me get involved in this life-changing surf therapy program. It's an opportunity we have here in São Tomé to expand our capabilities as African women."

Our Programs

Surf therapy is our DNA. However, in order to disrupt cycles of gender inequality, we need to address the root cause. If we want African young women to become independent, productive citizens, leaders in the community, and champions for change, a holistic development approach is mandatory. We have built a strong foundation for impact by supporting holistic community development that starts with young girls, goes through their families and schools and ends up with the youth community.

Gliders

Foundation Program 0
1
main program
A year long after-school program combining the teaching of surfing with a curriculum of psycho education, women empowerment and academic support. These 4 subjects provide a holistic support that looks at each preadolescence girl as a whole person, considering their physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing.
Objectives
develop self esteem and soft skills.
Beneficiaries
10 -13 year old girls.

Riders

Foundation Program 0
2
advanced main program
An advanced level of the riders program, with the same curriculum but more specialized and adjusted to the transitional challenging phase of a girl, between childhood and adulthood. This program allows each girl to integrate and enhance the experience, knowledge and skills learned, into their lives.
Objectives
decrease school dropout and teenage pregnancy.
Beneficiaries
14 -17 year old girls

Floaters

Foundation Program 0
3
complementary program
A space where the community can gather and use the facilities of the library (books and computers), the play room, the surf club and the study room. Once a week, boys are invited to gather in workshops with girls and together, as a collective community, they can transform gender norms.
Objectives
increase social inclusion and fight gender inequalities.
Beneficiaries
open to the youth of the community.

Pro

Foundation Program 0
4
complementary program
An Intensive program that creates an ecosystem of opportunities for girls to excel by empowering them with professional skills and personal and social competences so they can become active participants in the society and succeed as intra/entrepreneurs in the tourism and surf industry.
Objectives
increase women employment.
Beneficiaries
18 year old girls.

Family

Foundation Program 0
5
complementary program
A gender-responsive and parenting-friendly program. Caring for caregivers, ending harmful practices at home, addressing gendered norms relating to childcare and encouraging fathers engagement, is the foundation of this positive parenting.
Objectives
increase SOMA girls attendace rate and decrease domestic violence.
Beneficiaries
caretakers of SOMA gliders and riders.

SOMA
in a seashell

576H
Hours of surf
therapy sessions
864H
Hours spent on
Soma Classroom
90
Graduated
Girls
+150
Volunteers
Aiming to strengthen what already works and innovate in order to improve outcomes, we have developed a rigorous impact measurement strategy that considers not only the girls and their families/communities but also the impact of volunteers and SOMA staff.
Know More

Before SOMA's intervention, 65% of the girls agreed that woman has an obligation to do all the household chores and take care of children without man's help. By the end of intervention, just 23% agreed on this idea.

"Before SOMA I would do all the housework alone, I though it should be like that. Now I ask my brothers for help"
Celina, 18 years old

Before attending SOMA, 100% couldn't identify their emotions. After intervention all girls know identify emotions such as happiness, fear, disgust, sadness or anger.

"Now that I am able to express how I feel and understand how others are feeling I stopped fighting with everyone"
Letviana, 20 years old

Before SOMA, 26% of girls were afraid of the ocean, now only 4%.

"In the beginning was a place of fear, now is a place of joy!"
Daniela, 19 years old

We have also achieved other important step stones for women in São Tomé:

1sr female participation on a national surf championship

We can proudly say that we have organized the first two national surf championships (2021, 2022) with a female participation in the country's history and with equivalent prizes for the two categories, which was another achievement for SOMA in the fight for gender equality and development through sport.

Coaching and Instructing certification program

Together with the Olympic Solidarity, the National Olympic Committee and ISA (International Surfing Association) we’ve organized, an intensive surf training program where 15 local boys and girls became official judges and surf coaches - another step for SOMA that went beyond its own mission to help develop the surfing industry in order to create job opportunities for the whole community.

A female surfer represented her coutry overseas

With the support of “Provide the Slide”, SOMA took the female national champion to attend a surf conference with other 5 west African countries and to participate in the10th Liberia National Surf Championship taking place in Robertsport, Liberia.

A moment that had a tremendous positive impact on how girls are perceived in São Tomé and have inspired more local girls to pursue their dreams!

Our Stories

"I learn a lot of things through SOMA, I learn about surfing and female empowerment.I feel happier when I’m in SOMA activities, I feel that I have more freedom and hope in myself."
"Soma is a surf sisterhood that does classes and exercises. When I go to SOMA ativities I feel good and happy".
"Soma is a group of empowered women that can do all the things boys can. When I attend SOMA I feel happy, it's a important project that help me a lot not ony with surf but also with school."
"Through SOMA I learned to respect, listen to people, and to be more brave. When I'm in the sea I feel a bit afraid but also full of courage to catch the waves. Soma is a project that help us interact with each other and where we can learn that we are able to achieve our dreams."

Join the ripple effect

Volunteer as a Buddy

A community based program where you will be a helping hand to long-term staff/volunteers on the ground which means that you might not teach directly but instead, you will assist an existing teacher. This ensures that the positive impact made by volunteers is continuous and the best interests of our girls are put first.
São Tomé
Min. 2 Months | Full -Time
Portuguese Speaker Only

Volunteer as a Mentor

A highly skill-based program, that requires experience and expertise in specific subjects.You will become deeply immersed in a concrete task while also serving as a mentor to SOMA girls, a mission through which you will witness meaningful change.
São Tomé
5 Months | Full-Time
Portuguese Speaker Only

Volunteer as a HQ Team Member

A way to bring do-gooders on board from a distance, this is an important program and vital part of the daily functional operations of the organization. You can help tackle our girl’s development challenges from any device anywhere in the world by collaborating flexibly and donating your time, skills and knowledge.
Remote
Min. 3-6 Months | 4hrs per week

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