You don’t have to look far to be bombarded with the professed negative impacts of social media. However, occasionally a story pops up that shows the immense good that can occur when human kindness and global connectivity combine.
Earlier this month the The Vanuatu Surfing Association posted a picture of Kaltaliu Kalotiti, a young surfer from the south west of the island, holding a board held together with duct-tape.
The caption explained that Kaltaliu had recently made it all the way to the semi-finals of a local U14 surf competition on his battered stick, before appealing to the online community to donate a replacement. The response was astounding, with the post garnering a whopping 323 shares and before long, offers were flooding in.
As well as scores of direct comments on the post itself, dozens came in via New Zealand Surf Magazine, who shared the initial post.
“We put that image on our NZ Surfing Facebook page and within seconds the situation was resolved,” editor Steve Dickinson told ABC.
“A guy called Graeme Sainty rang and said, ‘Hey, look I’ve got a board, I’m going out your way tomorrow, I’ll drop it off with the board bag and a leash.
“And then in 10 minutes we had another six or seven offers of boards, and then by the end of the day those offers had gone to about 20 or 30.”
Dickinson vowed to find a way to get all the boards out to Vanuatu where there’s a large community of groms desperate to get their hands on a real surfboard and last week he announced the campaign had been successful:
“OK bit of an update – Kaltaliu’s new board it’s on its way to Vanuatu” Dickinson posted on Facebook. “Thanks to Air Van for helping out there with a little extras weight and a helping local.”
“Seeing we had some many responses and the fact that in Pango there are a bunch of local kids – who have nothing – all wanting to surf but either making boards out of wood or sharing or just sitting and wishing. We dug around and found an Export company that has offered to freight the boards up for free – and we are now looking at find a courier company who will simply come and pick up the offered boards and drop them with the freight team and they will go to Pango. Keep tuned we’ll see how it comes together.”
We hope this story will set an exciting precedent for many more campaigns to get boards into the hands of surf-loving groms in parts of the world where cost and logistics have previously proved prohibitive.