Making waves: Meet KK, the only female surfer in Sierra Leone

Story highlights

  • Kadiatu Kamara known as KK, is the only female surfer in Sierra Leone
  • KK was born into civil war and lived through the Ebola epidemic that ravaged her country
  • She is the subject of "A Million Waves," an upcoming documentary
  • "Surfing is good for us ladies," says the 19-year-old.

(CNN)Kadiatu Kamara stares out at the horizon in silent contemplation. Surfboard under her arm she draws the sign of the cross, then pauses. The Atlantic, impatient, swells around her ankles, ushering the Sierra Leonean towards a break a short paddle away.

Kamara, known as KK, is the only female surfer at Bureh Beach, south of Freetown. In fact, she's the only female surfer in Sierra Leone.
    Nineteen years old, KK was born into civil war and lived through the Ebola epidemic that ravaged her nation. But her story is not one of tragedy. Instead it's a love affair with the waves, kept afloat by a polyurethane board and no small measure of determination.
      A young woman in a man's world, she's found herself part of Bureh Beach Surf Club, a group countering sloppy misconceptions about this corner of West Africa. And on a surfboard, she's become a star in her own right.

      Escaping to the ocean

      KK is the subject of "A Million Waves", an upcoming documentary short directed and shot by British filmmakers Daniel Ali and Louis Leeson. They spent time at Bureh Beach Surf Club in May after learning about KK from a couple of traveling surfers. Embedding themselves into the community, they settled on telling her story.
      "She started surfing about two years ago," says Ali. "Her father had died about two years ago, Ebola broke out [around the same time]."
      "When Ebola broke out schools closed down, there was a high uptake in teen pregnancies, because people were staying home and there wasn't anything to do," he explains. Escaping into the Atlantic for a few hours at a time provided welcome respite.
      "Surfing always makes me happy," KK told Ali and Leeson, "[it] always makes me forget about my problems at home."