Swimming in Sreepur


July 28, 2017

Every day at three o’clock, Sumi, a seven-year–old girl of Sreepur Village, rushes home from school eagerly wanting to visit the village pond. Keen to get there, when the actual time comes to dip her toes into the welcoming waters, Sumi doesn’t want to enter. When she finally gets in, she makes sure not to let go of her swimming instructor’s hand. Every day Mousumi and her friends Rimon, Sajal and Rani all have similar experiences which, seen from afar, provoke a number of emotions.

Currently, more than 70 children are learning to swim in the village, a programme which started at the beginning of July and is aimed at reducing the number of deaths by drowning. Every day in rural Bangladesh 46 children will die from drowning which amounts to 17,000 per year. Most of the children of Sreepur Village come from the rural riverine area where death by drowning is extremely common.

So, with these statistics it is clear to see why The Sreepur Village started the #SwimSafe programme. Teaming up with CIPRB (Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh)  The Sreepur Village funds qualified swimming instructors to teach the mothers and children of the village how to swim, a scheme which runs for two months this summer and again next year.

 

The swimming lessons are held in the pond, which is sectioned off by using natural bamboo. Using these local resources one can mimic, at low cost, a swimming pool with two sections. One is a low fenced-off platform which creates an artificial water depth of 40-60cm used to gain the children’s confidence and get them accustomed to water. The other section, 12.5 meters in depth and also with a boundary fence, is used to test their swimming and floating abilities.

 

We asked Sumi and her mother Josna what they thought about the swimming programme:

Sumi said, “I love to learn to swim. Even though I am afraid of the water, it is not very deep and I can even stand up in it. It is great having swimming teachers to help us and the best bit is I can also splash around with my friends - we all have fun together.”

 

Sumi’s Mother Josna explained that ‘Meghna’ (one of the mighty rivers of Bangladesh) is next to her house and almost every year there are floods. She said, “I never got the chance to teach my children how to swim. I was preoccupied with my family issues. However, here in The Sreepur Village my children have been given the opportunity to learn how to swim. This is such a worthy cause as three years ago, a daughter of one of my relatives fell into the water, she was lucky to survive but one day I will go back to my rural community to live and because of The Sreepur Village and CIPRB my children would have learned the essential skills to swim and not drown.”

From CIPRB and working with us are two female swimming instructors, Jhumur and Monika, both dedicating their time to teach the children how to swim. Monika explained that through a 21 step- process, the children are instructed to be positive in the water, to develop swimming and floating abilities. She said, “We also teach the children how to rescue somebody who is drowning and to identify life-threatening water dangers. All of the children are performing well. They are learning to swim fast. We are very proud of them and it is our pleasure to teach them life-saving techniques.”



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