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Women & Water is an 8-week summer program in Lobitos, Peru, that supports local girls in cultivating their inner and outer strength through ocean play, artistic expression, and wellness workshops. Co-founded and developed with professional athlete Sarah Hauser, the program is a Positive Youth Development approach for young women to build a relationship with themselves, one another, and their surroundings focused on compassion, curiosity, and creativity. 


Women & Water began in 2018 as a gender-sensitive water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) project that centered on providing clean drinking water to Lobitos, a small-scale fishing village along Peru's bone-dry northern coast. Today, it focuses on integrating holistic health practices more broadly, inspired by the principles of adrienne maree brown's "Emergent Strategy," including adaptation, resilience, and transformative justice.


The program includes activities such as:


  • Surf Therapy sessions with WAVES Lobitos + training from Groundswell Community Project

  • Mindfulness & Yoga classes

  • Nutrition & Holistic Health workshops

  • Storytelling, creative arts, & audiovisual communication workshops

  • Common-world approach to environmental education.

    • This more-than-human approach moves past the traditional notion of stewardship, which often positions humans as the dominant caretakers of the environment, and instead promotes a sense of interconnectedness and mutual responsibility between humans and the natural world.

Emphasizing interdependence and decentralization, Women & Water fosters a strong sense of community and mutual support among the girls. By connecting with the ocean and each other, the girls gain a deeper understanding of their personal strengths and the importance of nurturing a healthy social-ecological system and water bodies (our own and those around us, including our planet's). 

Our next program takes place from January 2025 until March 2025. Interested in interning with us on the ground or remotely? Please email us at to learn more! 

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Women & Water launched in 2018. Sarah Hauser, a professional windsurfer from New Caledonia, traveled to South America to compete in the International Windsurfing Tour's Peru Pacasmayo Classic. Passionate about water sports as tools for social and environmental change, after the competition, Sarah sought an opportunity to join a community-based project engaging local kids from the nearby fishing villages. The women at the Changing Tides Foundation connected Sarah with Emi Koch from Coast 2 Coast in Lobitos, Peru.


Through surfing and swimming classes, Emi focuses on engaging children from small-scale fishing families with their ocean in a way that nurtures curiosity and positive relationships with self, community, and the environment. Beyond the Surface's participatory audiovisual workshop series, Coast 2 Coast, was co-founded together with Nicolás Landa, a videographer from Lima, Peru, who engaged in social justice and documentary production. Coast 2 Coast enables kids with the technical and creative media skills to celebrate the strengths and identify their community's needs in their village and natural environment. Water scarcity and inadequate hygiene and sanitary facilities are necessities that have long been an issue for the fishing village.

Nestled into an isolated, bone-dry stretch of Northern Peru’s coastline, Lobitos is a small-scale fishing village that once played host to pioneering British and American oil companies. In 1968, the Peruvian military-led government expelled foreign enterprises. The army quickly moved into Lobitos, destroying all leftover infrastructure, including the desalinization plant installed by the enterprises that provided the local community with clean drinking water. Today, left parched in the desert, Lobitos receives a limited, fickle supply of unfiltered water pumped into the town weekly. To quench their thirst, residents must first boil the water. However, many have grown accustomed to drinking milk, juices, or other sugary beverages instead.


Emi and Sarah discussed the issues of water scarcity and its impact, particularly on women. After brainstorming sessions, research, and input from local community members, Women & Water launched in an effort to improve the WASH situation in Lobitos while promoting local mothers and daughters’ participation and leadership capabilities as stewards of positive change for their community.

Number of Girls Involved: 10

Number of Families with Access to Clean Water: 10


Audiovisual Workshops


The girls shared their perspectives on water scarcity's impact on their community and their ideas about ways to maintain healthy hygiene and good sanitation. Keywords and overlapping themes from their stories became the basis for the girls' explanations of the problem through their own images.



A group of young girls captured the images that came to mind when they thought of water in their community. Known as PhotoVoice, this Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) tool invites kids to illustrate an issue under investigation through their own pictures. After photographing where water was or should be in their fishing village, the girls took a look at their images and gave their voice to them, discussing why they took the picture they did and what message about water's role it contained. The images were printed and part of a community exhibition. 



A team of students produced a stop-motion animation on how to use the donated water filters. Their stop-motion, directed by the girls in the class, serves as the training manual for families on how to use their new filter. The animation was screened for the Lobitos community and in each household that received a filter.


In our second year, friends from the Changing Tides Foundation and Bodhi Surf & Yoga joined us in Lobitos and supported our newly formed all-girl surfing classes, audiovisual workshops, and nutrition & wellness circles with their positive energy and drive. We focused this year on building on the information the girls reported from their Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) in 2018, to address some of the key issues centered around WASH. 

Number of Girls & Mothers Involved: 29

Number of Families with Access to Clean Water: 32

Audiovisual Workshops


Our PhotoVoice workshops this year focused on documenting key infrastructure necessary for good WASH practices. We also took portraits of one another, sharing what strengths we could see in our friends.



A team of local elementary school girls, led by Peruvian artist and Coast 2 Coast facilitator, Luana Letts, painted a mural on the walls outside classrooms. The girls lined up their bodies against the wall, and their peers traced their silhouettes. The girls painted inside their figures, dancing and swimming below the sea under a full moon.



As part of our nutrition workshops, a team of young girls co-created a stop-motion animation on How to Make Ceviche from the North of Peru, a healthy dish with deep cultural roots and, of course, a connection to Peru's northern oceans. The Tropical Sea is home to roughly 70% of the nation's marine biodiversity and, therefore, a hotspot for illegal, unreported, unregulated, or IUU fishing. Overfishing not only impacts ocean health but also leads to food insecurities for the fish-dependent coastal communities living along the Tropical Sea. While the animation appears cute and innocent, it serves as a platform to discuss the critical issues surrounding the dish.



Our two art workshops focused on making signs with positive messaging for climate action and drawing self-portraits.


In 2020, before the pandemic, we were able to facilitate surfing sessions with our partner, WAVES Lobitos, and a small group of international volunteers.  


​Number of Girls & Mothers Involved: 42

Number of Families with Access to Clean Water: 50

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