By Ndey Sowe
Swim for life Gambia, an NGO that seeks to minimize drowning across the country has on Saturday, 5th October 2019 awarded certificates to students who had undergone a month intensive training programme.
The children aged 8-16, have after one month of the intensive training programme learned how to swim. At the graduation ceremony held at the Joint Officers Mess in Kotu, graduating students showcased what they were taught during this period.
This project has since graduated two batches and this is the third batch, were 29 out of 31 students graduated. The graduating students demonstrated skills such as; breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle, diving, to name a few.
Speaking at the ceremony Sang Mendy, Swim for Gambia Project Coordinator said it’s a very important milestone that they have challenged themselves to do,
“We can confidently say 96% of the participants can swim”, he assured.
‘’Our hearts are filled with sorrow because whilst the project was on, 2 to 3 weeks ago we learned the loss of lives of people especially young children, through drowning and we aim to eliminate that”, he said.
He pointed out that, the project started 3years ago in 2016 and brought together very important stakeholders.
Mr. Mendy explained that from 2009 to 2019, 216 lives have been lost through drowning and out of these a good number of them were young people. He said in 2019 alone, 8 lives were lost through drowning, five of them in the last month.
“We had funds from a Norwegian individual who saw our update and has been supporting us, but we also need a pool which we can call our own which will help us conduct our training with ease” he said.
He urged the Gambian people to be together to reduce the number of incidents of drowning.
According to Red Dolphins, Life Guard Association of the Gambia recorded an estimated 211 cases of drowning while 126 were rescued between 2006 and 2019. 80% of these cases involved children.
Marcel Mendy Executive Secretary of the sport council said, in his opinion, the most important life skill is to know how to swim. He considers this as very important in the life of human beings particularly the young ones.
‘’I take this opportunity to congratulate the organiser of Swim Life Gambia for quite a brilliant idea” he said.
He also urged them to maintain the momentum and work together with those that matter to make it bigger.
Sang Mendy a participant said ‘’I have learned different skills of swimming such as diving, freestyle and breaststroke which I can use to defend myself at sea”.
Awa Gomez a parent said parents out there should bring their children on this platform, where they will be trained on how to swim for their safe future.