In The Gambia, the beaches are frequented by visitors and locals, but most of the residents are non-swimmers. Being a good swimmer doesn't guarantee an accident will not happen. The Red Dolphins watch over the beach users and educate them about water safety. Accidents are sometimes due to ignorance, and lifeguards are there to ensure swimmers' safety.
The Red Dolphin Lifeguard Association is a group of volunteers who have received full training to rescue people in trouble in the water. They have saved many people's lives while volunteering on the beaches.
Yes, they are volunteers and receive no salaries or government funding.
The Red Dolphins are trained in basic first aid procedures to prevent or help during accidents. The members are certified lifeguards, and the organisation is a recognised body in The Gambia.
The significant problem this association faces is needing more rescue equipment which is essential for the job. The rescue equipment is not available in The Gambia and without budget, gearing up is a financial burden.
The Red Dolphin Lifeguards are based on a few beaches in the country. They are working towards establishing lifeguard bases on every beach of The Gambia. They intend to employ more youths and train them for the job. They hope that members will be paid for their work as lifeguards.
However, these lifeguards are needed to protect beach swimmers, especially since many Gambians fear water and receive little or no swimming training. Education and training on safety in the sea would be more widely available if there were more lifeguards.
Before the pandemic hit, they received some small support, and plans were in place to create a sustainable association by constructing lifeguard stations/towers along Gambia's coastline, which would generate income by selling business advertising space. This income would help them pay their salaries and support the association in expanding and training more guards. Consequently, this would also assist with youth employment in The Gambia. All these plans have been halted as the pandemic continues to affect the tourism industry.
In May 2021, The Red Dolphin Association watchtower at Zing Bar, Bijilo, was constructed and officially handed over to RDA, which immediately impacted the safety of bathers in this area. A watchtower was built with the help of our readers and followers through the My Gambia Fundraiser. We want to thank all of you who donated. We couldn't do it without you.
Apart from the much-needed station for RDA, the watchtower provides the space for advertising which can generate income for RDA to be self-sufficient (providing salaries, maintenance for equipment, training and much more).
For all your businesses out there who want to advertise, all you have to do is create your advert in a durable material to the size, contact Modou Lamin, the chairman of the RDA and agree on the location of advertising-either Palma Rima or Bijilo beach.