A. To raise global awareness of drowning prevention and womens’ rights.
So, it’s maybe not the best punchline to a joke ever… but actually, this is no laughing matter.
On the 21st of November the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, six other Dutch women, and seven Sudanese women swam across the Blue Nile, finishing at the headquarters of the Sea Scouts. It started months ago, as a simple Facebook challenge, but quickly grew in seriousness and ambition as Nile Swimmers in Sudan made contact with the Embassy and started to educate them about the problem of drowning in Africa.
The message of the #CrossingTheNile event shifted to one of drowning prevention, combined with an issue close the the Ambassadors heart – womens’ rights.
As you may remember, in March, we ran our first female instructor programme – which has grown from strength to strength ever since. It was an honour to be able to select some young female leaders from the Sea Scouts (our partner organisation in Sudan) to swim with the Ambassador. Overall it was a hugely successful day, and we are very thankful to our team of (over 40) volunteers who helped put it on, to the Sea Scouts who helped with the logistics and boat safety cover, and of course to the Embassy for the original idea.
The idea of women swimming in Sudan is still a strange concept, so the idea of a group of white women swimming across the Nile was certain to attract a lot of attention. Indeed it did, and the media coverage around the world (including India, Pakistan, Japan, UK, America, and many many African countries) has been amazing. Drowning is an under recognised, and under-resourced cause of death in LMICs, we are so lucky that the Ambassador wanted to add her voice to the campaign to #StopDrowning.
The swim was to attract the attention of the local people and the media, followed with technical demonstrations by Dutch female swimming instructors (from the Dutch Don’t Drown Foundation), and Sudanese female lifeguards in the swimming pool. Finally, the event was completed with a famous Dutch/Sudanese singer. A hugely positive collaborative event that has had many people talking about drowning prevention – exactly what we hoped to do!
Here is a great article & photo gallery on the CNN website about the event, and the cause – http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/24/africa/sudan-nile-drowning-dutch-ambassador/index.html and below is a video of the event.
You can still support the swim event by donating here: https://www.justgiving.com/Adrienne-Blankhart