The Surf Community of Bangladesh
Bangladesh outreach is coming to an end for this year, we got to the chance to serve the community of Cox’s Bazar.
Jon Caliguire, current team member of the Bangladesh outreach, is giving his thoughts below on the trip (not to be confused with the guy on the featured picture). He is a creative and adventurous soul, always ready to talk story and share a joyful moments.
“I would have loved to see my face 6 months ago, if you had told me that I would be judging the National Bangladesh surfing competition in Cox’s Bazar within the next year of my life. But here I am, sitting in my hotel bed after an obscenely hot and incredibly inspiring day of rating rides from the best surfers in Bangladesh, sort of bewildered that I have this story to tell. I have a lot of “how did I get here” moments with Surfing The Nations.
We just finished the first day of preliminary heats, with quarter and semi final heats coming up tomorrow, and an epic day of finals on Sunday. This years competition has over 70 competitors in it! Amazed by the number of competitors and spectators I could see from the judges tower, I asked Tom what the first competition was like when he organized it about 15 years ago. He just laughed and told me “that used to be our judge tower” pointing at a tiny beach chair a few yards down the beach. “It wasn’t very big at all” He tells me.
There are many amazing things I have witnessed here. A rambunctious community of surfers that has created a sense of family in a place that is typically very isolated. Surf clubs that take kids off of the streets and give them jobs and a sport to change their lives. Leadership workshops attended by dozens of inspiring Bengalis all under the age of 35. But all of these amazing things have the same story as our surfing competition – they all had very small beginnings. It was always just one person who was willing to take a risk and try something new. Now I can look around the city of Cox’s Bazar and see springs of life bursting out of the ground everywhere as the fruit of these humble, but faithful beginnings has become ripe.
Surfing The Nations has been coming to Cox’s Bazar for 16 years now. Kids that Tom met when they were 6 are now some of my greatest friends here. The impact of many people taking a risk and saying yes to a humble beginning has not only blessed this place, but it has blessed me. Getting to witness this radical surfer community and share love with people on the other side of the world has changed my life. Many of the boys I have met here – Fahad, Shagor, Mannan, Hannan, Younus – have become lifelong friends. They are truly spectacular people that have pioneered lives of service and adventure in the midst of a lot of adversity.
Tomorrow, I get to judge all of them as they move forward in their heats. I will base my judgement solely on how much they bribe me.
Just kidding that would be immoral. But we joke anyway.
With just under a week left for my time in my Bangladesh, I have a lot of excitement for what’s coming. The more I get to know these Bengali surfers, the more I see that they are going to change the world. They dream big and they are no strangers to risk. My hope for the rest of our time here is to encourage them, an be encouraged ourselves for the work we are doing in our lives. I hope to see more humble but faithful beginnings come out of each of us.
With all love and gratitude,