In the face of violence these kids find liberation on a sand dune


A group of kids walk up the curved spine of a slumbering dune, lugging sandboards to the high point on its ridge. Their laughter stretches out into the wide-open space as they reach the peak. Blinding white dunes clash with the massive sky. The kids drop their boards, strap in and set themselves. In an instant they disappear, dropping away down the dune. With swooping cuts they bomb towards the base, free and unconstrained by apprehension or disquiet.

Back up top, Derek Bredenkamp watches with a half-turned smile. This Friday afternoon ritual is as much an escape for him as it is for the kids. Borrowing equipment from his business, he brings a clutch of excited children to experience the thrill of cutting loose on Atlantis’s dunes at the end of every week. The healthy pursuit is a stark contrast to their lives at home, where the airwaves are polluted by gunshots and gangsterism devours more young lives each day.

What this escape means to this group can only be fully appreciated in light of the volatile space they occupy for the rest of the week. The few hours of carefree bliss that Bredenkamp’s act of kindness creates is changing their outlook on life. “This is something every child deserves,” Bredenkamp says. Thanks to him, a few more children have a way out of the harsh reality of their daily existence.