Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Nicaraguan Women's National Surfing Champion and CHICABRAVA Founder Ashley Blaylock joined forces with the House of Hope foundation to host Camp Bella, a five-day surf program for women rescued from human trafficking. The life-changing event took place from November 26-30 and was hosted by CHICABRAVA's surf camp in San Jan del Sur, Nicaragua.
According to CHICABRAVA Founder, Ashley Blaylock, "During Camp Bella, these girls were free of judgment from their past and were finally recognized as the beautiful, intelligent, and carefree individuals that they are. Whenever they surfed the waves or were even present in the ocean, they were fully alive. It was truly a time of empowerment and healing."
During the weeklong Camp Bella program, six former victims between 14 and 16 years of age had the opportunity to engage in surfing, swimming, yoga, sailing, hiking and cooking classes. With the help of certified instructors, the young girls were able to learn the basics of surfing, which was a tremendous challenge considering only two knew how to swim when the program commenced. Yet remarkably, in just one week they were all standing up on their surfboards and riding the waves to shore.
"It was so exciting to see their confidence grow by the day," says CHICABRAVA Surf Instructor, Sarah Powers. "In the process, they discovered the joy of being treated with value and the utmost respect, both in and out of the water."
Since CHICABRAVA specializes in empowering women through surfing, Camp Bella offered an ideal opportunity to give back to local women in need. Together with local sponsors, CHICABRAVA was able to raise more than $3,000 to help cover costs for the event and provide additional financial support for the cause.
By the final day, the young girls had a sparkle of new life in their eyes, as did those who contributed to the meaningful event. According to House of Hope Director, April Havlin, the novice surfers begged to extend their memorable stay at Camp Bella. "They wished the week would never end," Havlin says. "They learned valuable lessons about themselves – Even talking with them on the ride home, I could sense that many seemed to have a broader understanding of life in general. The surf camp had an impact on them that will last forever."
By partnering with the House of Hope shelter in Managua, CHICABRAVA has created Camp Bella to be a quintessential piece in the recovery process for these victims of prostitution. The original goal was to inspire and give each girl hope for a brighter future. Remarkably, in the process healing took place, as these young ladies were no longer girls who were sexually exploited, but rather innocent females with a purposeful future. They were not reminded of their past, but were fully accepted and encouraged to dream about a better tomorrow.
Since Camp Bella was such a positive experience, CHICABRAVA Founder, Ashley Blaylock has committed to making the charity surf camp an annual event. "It was a monumental and impressionable success," says Blaylock, "not only for the wonderful ladies who made new memories, but also for the people and business that helped along the way. We have been touched by this experience and are looking forward for the next opportunity to impact lives through the power of surfing."