Sunday, 30 December 2018

Teach them to swim

Please, teach them to swim.
Most people live around the coastline of this country. Where they don't there are often rivers and waterholes and people go into the water.
People drown.
We had another death here this last week. A young carer of a disabled boy drowned. The boy raised the alarm by knocking on someone's door but, because he can't speak, he can't tell people what happened.  All we now is that the young man caring for him has died. He came from a country where swimming is uncommon. I doubt Tibet has many swimming pools and who wants to learn to swim in icy rivers and lakes - even if it was safe to do so?
We have had too many other migrants and refugees lose their lives in the water. 
My paternal grandfather taught me to swim. It was a challenge for both of us but he knew I needed to learn. He taught my brother too. For several years we lived no more than a couple of kilometres from my paternal grandparents. Each morning in the summer holidays my grandfather would come and get me and my brother at around six in the morning. He would take us down to the beach which was about four city blocks from our house.  Although we enjoyed it we were not going for the fun of it - we were going to learn to swim. 
It was one of the things my brother and I missed when we moved to a remote location on the edge of the desert. That is why that early morning swim I described a couple of posts back was so important to us. 
We went on to "Learn to Swim" classes held in the school holidays.
I managed to get my Beginners, Progress and Intermediate Certificates. I was taught to swim in the sea and then in the river. I have swum in farm dams and in an Olympic size pool.  It is a long time since I have done any of those things but I believe I could still swim the length of a pool if I had to. It might be enough to save my life. 
But what it has really taught me is something even more important. Water can be dangerous, very dangerous. Yes, you can have fun but you need to have some skills. 
My niece and her husband have taught their three girls to swim. The youngest is only four but she can swim at least fifty metres. She can dive into the water head first and fall in backwards and much more.  She is confident in the water - and because of that confidence her parents know she also needs to be watched all the time. Water, even swimming pool water, can be dangerous. 
Beaches, water holes, rivers and other bodies of water are far more dangerous.  If you come from a country or culture which does not encourage swimming those things are even more dangerous.
We need to teach people to swim - or otherwise stay right away from the water.
It would be better to teach them to swim. 

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