This ocean warrior is turning the tide for South Africa
Even from the middle of South Africa, a young Hanli Prinsloo could hear the seaside calling her. Raised on a horse farm, she already had an unbridled love for the environment. But it’s at sea that she discovered how deep her passion was. “Every time I’m in the ocean, it makes me feel connected to myself, to nature, and to the people I share the oceans with,” Prinsloo says. She started freediving and soon broke over 11 national records. Being underwater opened her eyes to marine conservation. Now, Prinsloo’s focus is on changing the tides for kids who live near our coastlines.
Prinsloo’s love for the deep blue began when she could only dream of it. But many closer to our shores never get to feel a drop of its magnificence. In 2010, Prinsloo founded I AM WATER. The NPO offers underprivileged children the chance to experience the sea through conservation workshops. “Our greatest work is bringing Grade 7 students to the beaches and showing them what’s beneath the waves,” Prinsloo says. While teaching the youngsters to swim, she shares her knowledge of marine life with them. Above all, the kids take away the confidence to plunge into life.
Prinsloo’s achievements are as awe-inspiring and vast as the ocean itself. But it’s her caring attitude that has the biggest impact on the students. “To date, we’ve worked with over 2 000 kids,” Prinsloo says. “Seeing their lives change is what gets me out of bed every morning.” In experiencing the joy the ocean brings, children discover the importance of conserving it. Our seas are filled with wonder. So is our nation. By encouraging our youth to explore uncharted waters, they can realise how incredible they are.