"You cannot help everybody, but everybody can help someone".
With dozens of people drowning every year in The Gambia, it is true to speak of an "invisible public health challenge" with an "intolerable death toll." WHO lists Africa as the region with the highest rate of drowning casualties in the world.
In fact, the tragic numbers are even higher, because often they do not count the fishermen without any swimming experience or life jacket, flood victims of natural disasters, or migrants who lost their lives when they cross open water.
And if this "silent killer" isn't already terrible enough, how about the relatives of fellow human beings who died by drowning. Because, for example, there is nothing worse or more traumatic for a parent to lose a child.
The challenge: Swimming Sustainability For All
With a country bordering the ocean and with more than 300 kilometers of river, we have a strong belief that every Gambian should be able to swim.
We mean swimming in addition to saving your own life or that of others, how to recognize when the ocean can be dangerous with undertow and high waves, the risky streams in the river, or what to do if you accidentally fall overboard.
Besides that, swimming is also good for your health condition and has a stress-reducing effect on your mind. Ocean water also has a beneficial effect on the skin. But unfortunately, there are still very few swim training facilities in the country.
The start of this project will take place at Vibe Fitness Center in Kololi and SBEC school in Bijilo. These locations are chosen because they already have extensive experience in this area with its own swimming classes. There is also a well-trained teacher who can work with young and old and who is also trained in first aid and lifeguard education.
Learning to swim safely also means: Not only a lot of attention will be given to the swimming training itself, but also to the risks of the ocean that is often underestimated even by experienced swimmers, such as how to recognize the dangerous undertow and rip currents.
Because the project is just starting up these summer school holidays, training will initially be done with small groups of 10 students, who require 1000 D per person per training of 8 lessons per month. A basic swim training consists of 3 months.
We will monitor the lessons ourselves. This is partly because we want to look at more aspects such as who is the "strongest and wisest". Can they share their knowledge with others or at their school? Or can they be the watchful eyes when the family goes to the beach for a day.
After all, an important objective of Xippia is always whether the knowledge and experience can't be passed on or shared. All our projects are after all and ultimately only FOR and BY Gambians.
Splash It On!
The challenge in this plan is how to start it up in the right way and make it a continuing spreading wave. Eventually, it will also create jobs which makes this school extra important.
It is not even a matter of getting funds for this, because it can be realized with very low costs. Rather, it's more about looking for those who don't wait for things to happen, but those who make things happen.
As a rule, the swimming lesson selection has a strong preference for underprivileged but motivated Gambian youth who otherwise would not have a chance to participate in these kinds of programs.
So, do you want to learn how to swim and do you know others, like family, friends or your school, who want it too? Or are you a swimming teacher, lifeguard or do you want to become one? Do you know a pool or do you have a pool that we can use? Can you get material for swimming lessons or life jackets? Are you ready to sponsor a child? Contact and join us today!
MEET US COMING SATURDAY AT VIBE FITNESS IN KOLOLI AT 10.00 AM