When Olesya Raskin came to our Surf + Brunch Nosara event in November 2018, she walked away inspired. “I was inspired to surf again, and I was inspired to help the local community,” she said. Surf + Brunch Nosara was the first panel event we hosted, with Costa Rican surf champ Andrea Diaz and surfeminist writer and scholar Tara Ruttenberg as panelists. We talked about surfeminism and surf colonialism. Where both topics overlap is evident in the marked lack of local Costa Rican women in the lineup. There are many Ticos (Costa Rican men) who shred, but few Ticas (Costa Rican women) who surf, let alone excel in the sport. Cultural stigmas keep Costa Rican women from getting in the water.
With that fact fresh on her mind, Olesya saw a chance to help turn the tide on this trend when she was approached by Hector Matarrita shortly after the event. Hector lives in Naranjal, a small village in Guanacaste Province an hour away from the condo units where he works as a guard, and where Olesya lives. Hector told Olesya that his eleven year-old daughter Melany wanted to learn how to surf. Olesya got excited.
[Photo: Eleven year-old Melany Castro Matarrita dreams of surfing and higher education]
“I got excited because she was the case we were talking about,” says Olesya. “I saw the opportunity to do good based on the discussion we had. If I had not come to Surf + Brunch, I don’t think I would have been that motivated. What we talked about made me think how big this problem is for local girls who don’t have a lot of opportunity to do sports here, especially surfing.”
Olesya immediately set up surf lessons for Melany, who makes the trek from her hometown in the mountains to Playa Guiones every weekend to be with her dad. Olesya reached out to us, and we donated a bikini and rash guard for the stoked young lady. “Melany loves the lessons, and keeps going back for more waves. She is so motivated,” says Olesya. Now Melany is learning how to surf from a Nosareña surfing legend, Jessenia Alfaro, who has graciously donated her time on the weekends to mentor Melany.
Not only does she have the desire to surf, Melany also wants to continue with higher education and become a teacher and eventually teach at a local school. Like many provincial towns in Costa Rica, education stops for most at the sixth grade. There are simply no middle or high schools available for advancing one’s education.
Hearing this, Olesya saw another avenue to do good. She took the initiative to help the Matarrita family apply for a scholarship so that their daughter can attend Del Mar Academy, a bilingual Montessori school in Nosara with an international baccalaureate program. “Melany is a good student. I know there are many other students interested, and they all deserve the chance. If she gets the scholarship, that’s great. If not, we’ll try again next year. And she will continue surfing as well. I hope she will be part of the local surf community here. Just a little help from someone can make such a big difference in your life.”