Water Safety Vietnam (WSV) has kicked off its program for 2016 with a successful water safety and swimming program for St Joseph’s Charity School in Bien Hoa (60kms from HCMC).  Forty nine little children attended the course and local teachers were responsible for planning the program with assistance from Australian teacher Ben Asmussen and Sophie Le, our Volunteer Co Ordinator  in HCMC. The course was completed last Friday 15 April 2016.

Mr Phil Johns, Executive Director of AUSCHAM visited the program last week and was impressed with what he saw. “The noise is amazing. The kids are just so happy and excited to be in the water learning how to swim. And importantly, there was great emphasis on survival: eg, if you see someone in trouble, if you can’t swim, don’t jump into the water. Try to reach them with a tree branch, or a rope or something. Throw them an empty water bottle which can help them float.

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A grieving grandmother learns of her grandson drowning in Central Vietnam – the same day that certificates were presented to graduating students at WSV’s class on friday.

“And then, while certificates were being presented to the students on Friday, nine children drowned in Central Vietnam. The difference is stark. You can keep your head above water, or you might… The work being done by WSV is amazing.”

This is the fourth year that WSV has supported a swim program in Bien Hoa.  The first year is primarily a demonstration of how we teach swimming followed up the next year with teacher training for those local teachers who are interested.  The aim is sustainability and so in the following years, we send teachers from Australia but only to support the local staff.  This has proven to be an effective model towards sustainability.

Ms Lan Trinh, Principal of St Josephs Bien Hoa said after the first program, “Can you imagine the joy of our children when they are joining the swimming lessons.” For these poor children, buying swimsuits and paying entrance fees for the swimming pool are beyond their parents’ means.

Ms Pam O’Reilly, Project Manager for WSV said “We don’t just teach swimming.  Being aware of the dangers of deep water and the skills of rescue that they learn during the lessons, could one day save their lives or that of their friend.”

More programs are planned for 2016.  As well as returning to our existing clients, the possibility of expanding to five new venues is being discussed.  WSV now operates in six provinces in Vietnam.

Since 2012, WSV has sent 60 volunteer teachers to Vietnam, has trained 500 adults to be swim teachers and taught more than 2000 kids.  Thanks to generous donors in Australia and more recently in Vietnam, (like AUSCHAM members in 2015), this work is able to continue and move from strength to strength.

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