On Monday the #SwimSafe schemes commenced once again in The Sreepur Village. They are run by a team from the CIPRB (Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh) who, along with assistance from the British RNLI, have devised learn to swim schemes that are run in both rural and urban areas in Bangladesh.
The reason why these lessons are so important is because over 40 children die every single day in the country from drowning. This is partly due to the fact there is so much water around; in ponds and rivers in villages and particularly during the monsoon season when there are serious floods. Also there is no real culture of learning to swim from a young age and there is a lack of awareness of the importance of learning this life saving skill. Plus, there are simply not the facilities or teachers available to run swimming lessons. However, these schemes are starting to make a difference, and the village knows how crucial it is that their children are given the chance to learn how to swim.
The lessons take place in one of the ponds in the village grounds. A
bamboo structure consisting of two rectangles, the largest of which is 25 metres on its longest length. Inside of this is a smaller rectangle which also has a bamboo floor and it is here that the lessons take place. With the recent donations that have been pouring in, The Sreepur Village is delighted that they will now be able to upgrade this structure to a more sturdier platform.
The aim of the swim scheme is for every child to be able to swim 25 metres, float or tread water for 30 seconds and perform a dry land
rescue. So often a child will fall into water and begin to struggle,
and other children will try and jump in to save that child, putting
everyone in danger. Instead the children are taught to stay on land
and try and rescue another child from there.
The first job for the two CIPRB instructors, who are staying at the village for the summer, was to test the ability of the children in the water. There are many new children since the scheme was run last summer. This week they were also joined by Becky Horsbrugh, a journalist and swim teacher from London who visited the village last summer to help with the lessons.
Also in January this year she became the first British person to swim
the Bangla Channel in the Bay of Bengal, a 16 km stretch from Teknaf
to St Martins. She did the swim to raise awareness of the big issue of
drowning and also to raise funds. Her sponsorship from the swim was
enough to provide the funding for swim lessons for over 800 children
in a rural area. We are also ensuring some of our staff members learn
how to teach swimming, so that they can run the programme next summer. So eight members of staff will be taking it in turns to join the children in the swimming pond.
The majority of the children love their lessons and most are quite
confident. It is a good diversion from lessons in the classroom and
especially as it is so hot at the moment, a good way to cool down.
Most importantly though they are having fun while learning an
important life skill. The children aged 6 and above are having lessons
for the entire summer, but the younger children still get a chance to
get in the water. There is a small swimming pool next to the main
building and they are taken there instead, where they can splash
around in a secure and well supervised environment.
Today is the start of the weekend in The Sreepur Village and also a chance for the mothers to get in the water and have some fun and freedom for a bit.
The 15th August is a significant day in Bangladesh as it is also National Mourning Day. In the Sreepur Village, the day's activities commenced with the students performing poetry and then gifts were distributed amongst all the children.