Noteworthy

N.C. surfers take Indian orphans, nuns on spring break

Posted May 1, 2010 3:14 p.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2010 12:12 p.m. EDT

— Three Wilmington surfers took nearly two dozen girls and nuns from an Indian orphanage on the spring break of a lifetime.

Wilmington surfing teachers Jack Viorel and Kevin Murphy held a four-day surfing camp for 23 girls and two nuns from the Home of Hope orphanage in Kochi, India.

"The surf camp we did in India for those orphaned girls, those girls forgotten and deemed worthless, those beautiful and intelligent girls with heaps of potential, had a powerful, powerful impact on me," Viorel said in a statement.

Some of the girls have lost their parents to AIDS, said religion writer Director Paul Wilkes, of Wilmington, who runs a foundation that supports the orphanage. Others are the daughters of prostitutes or were abandoned on the streets and never knew their parents.

"As a father of a little girl, I can't even fathom the tragic circumstances of their past," Murphy said. "We all have to do more, way more, to help those in need."

Spring break can be a trying time for the girls when they see other students in the orphanage school go home with their parents and relatives, Wilkes said.

When they heard of the girls' plight, Viorel and Murphy decided to take their Wilmington-based Ocean Cure charity surfing camp for special needs children and wounded veterans overseas.

They and two other Ocean Cure members, Dale Carter and Dave Houck, flew 11,000 miles to India and scouted out surfing sites. Then they packed up 23 girls, two nuns and surfing gear in the orphanage's school bus for four days of surfing lessons at Varkala Beach.

"The girls were at first tentative about dipping a toe in the water, let alone surfing," Carter said.

The girls, though, quickly caught the fun of surfing once they rode a few waves.

"These girls are tough, resilient, and they took some really nasty wipe-outs, laughing each time they came to the surface," Carter said. "After a bit, they got the hang of it and rode wave after wave with abandon."

The nuns joined in, too, surfing in full habits. When not surfing, the girls played in the shallow water, "cheering and clapping their friends on," he said. "It was contagious."

The surfing teachers said they hope the trip gave the girls fun memories that will last a long time.

"For four days, we were one big family sharing the gift of surfing," Carter said.