Something has changed in Sudan. We have been here now for four days, teaching the first pool lifeguard course for LMICs. And so far, everything has gone extremely smoothly. In Sudan, that is unusual! Our local Nile Swimmers management team, Mai, Mosab and Hamid, have done us proud.
On Monday, we arrived at the Sea Scouts on Nile Street for a 9 am start to the pool lifeguard course. Having working in Sudan before, we were prepared for the course to start an hour or more late as the participants arrived on “Sudan time”. We were completely stunned by the arrival of 10 participants before 9 am. This is unheard of in Sudan and it was going to prove to be one of a number of surprises over the following days. Meals were delivered on time. Locally sourced teaching materials were ready when they were needed. The participants are some of the strongest swimmers we have seen in Sudan.
Best of all, the participants are hungry to learn. They returned from breaks promptly, armed with a barrage of questions on their responsibility as pool lifeguards, how they could help pool users in a wide variety of situations, and how they could convince their pool managers that change is necessary to stop drowning in swimming pools in Khartoum.
Of course, the course has not been without its hiccups. On the first day, the classroom that we were supposed to be using still only had half a ceiling. Maa fi mushkela – not a problem! Instead we worked outside, running theory sessions on the role of the lifeguard on a shaded patio and teaching CPR on prayer mats laid out on the sand under the trees. This is still the best organised course that we have run in Sudan so far. I have no doubt that soon, we will have welcomed the first of Sudan’s qualified pool lifeguards into the Nile Swimmers family!