I’ve been in Sudan for about a week now, having meeting after meeting with various organisations that we are developing relationships with. This is the first time, that I’ve landed in Sudan with time scheduled for meetings before the training starts, and indeed after the training finishes. We made a decision that as the costs of entering the country are fixed (visas, flights, etc) then it makes sense to get maximum value for money by having the international volunteer team stay here for as long as possible.
This trip represents a huge (and desired) shift in the way that Nile Swimmers does work. The original concept was Sudanese, but the driving force for many years had been the UK team. That balance has shifted, and now it is the Sudanese Management Team who are developing the project concepts, establishing working relationships with partners, and sourcing local funding & support.
We have a team three international instructors (Dan, Becky and Tom) who are arriving and departing at different times – all with their specialist skill sets, coming together with an increasingly large and highly motivated team of Sudanese instructors to deliver a variety of programmes. The big difference this time, is that every single programme has been requested by the local partner organisations.
At the request of the Federal Ministry of Civil Defence (who have been slightly involved in all of our projects since 2007) we have designed and developed a rescue boat training course to up-skill the staff who are already working at the Nile boat stations. Their main job is body recovery, but they are starting to move their focus towards accident prevention.
At the request of the Elders of the village of Botri, the team have been working with months to deliver Aquatic Survival training to all the children of the village. Now our international team will be supporting and mentoring our Sudanese team of river lifeguard instructors to train some of the village adults. The Elders are exploring the ideas of setting up a lifeguarded area of beach in their village to keep the local people safe. We think this might be the first section of the Nile to be formally lifeguarded.
At the request of the Khartoum International Community School, we are returning with our Sudanese female instructors to run refresher training in swimming pool safety for their teaching assistants. KICS is a private school who in return have supported us by printing 2000 copies of our Arabic Aquatic Survival manual to support the on-going Aquatic Survival Programme in the Khartoum government schools (update coming soon), and with UNICEF in the Kosti refugee camps. We are really pleased to be able to continue our relationship and help improve their swimming pool safety.
Finally, last (but certainly the biggest) at the request of UNICEF Sudan, and in partnership with the Ministry of Social Welfare we are taking a team of Sudanese & International Aquatic Survival instructors down to deliver Aquatic Survival instructors training to adults who will then in-turn deliver it to vulnerable children. This is our first major out-reach project outside of Khartoum state, and we will be working in four of the five refugee camps in the Kosti area. This is near the border with South Sudan, and over 60% of the 180,000+ refugees on the camps are children. The area is close to the river, and many drownings have already occurred.
At this point, it is a pilot project with UNICEF to establish if the Aquatic Survival Programme will work in the context of the refugee camps, but we are very optimistic that this work will continue.
All of these programmes represent significant steps for Nile Swimmers as an organisation, and we are extremely proud to be working with these partners. We are even more proud of our enormously dedicated volunteers, and we could not do it without them.
You can help by sharing this story, help us to get the message out about the work we are doing. You can help by volunteering to support our UK operations, or as an international instructor. You can help by raising money to fund our projects – as the amazing University of Warwick Lifesaving Club are this weekend! Thanks for reading.