Maldives Rowing Volunteer
 
This morning a school trip in the Maldives ended in four high school girls and their principle drowning. The trip, for 32 children and their teachers from a school in Male, some how ended up in a complete tragedy when the children got into difficulty and their principle tried to rescue them.  Although I am not sure of all the details it has been reported that only the principle could swim and the children were in water 8 feet deep, definitely not in open sea.  Not wishing to make any comment on what happened as I do not know, all I can say is that encouraging children to swim well can only decrease (never remove) the likelihood of water related deaths happening.  In a country where the sea and boat travel are such an integral part of everyday life it still amazes me how many people are unable to swim and or terrified of the water.  

In the UK we view being able to swim as a safe precaution, yet how often (if you are not a rower) are you actually somewhere you could drown? In the Maldives, where even the capital island is only 1.5km long, the sea is an ever present force, yet if few of the parents (very few of the mothers) are able to swim and swimming lessons (particularly outside of Male) are rare, children grow up unable to swim yet constantly exposed to the sea.  Put simply it is a recipe for drowning.

I am not 100% sure what I am trying to say other than SWIMMING IS VITALLY IMPORTANT here.  I was out diving this morning very close to where this school trip was and it saddens me to think whilst we were congratulating ourselves and being a bit smug about seeing the marine life, less than a mile away children were drowning in relatively shallow water, close to land and in not terrible sea conditions because they couldn't swim. 

The news is online, however I will not link to it as the newspapers are not particularly cautious about what they put online, and sometimes overstep the boundaries of decency.

My heart goes out to the victim's families and all involved today

Rachel
 


Concerned Expat
09/20/2011 05:32

Hi! I was also shocked to find out that so few Maldivians swim when I first moved here. I have read that there was once an "ever child swims" program in all the school several years ago but it was stopped for some reason. Do you have any information regarding that program? Will they start it again?

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Rachel
09/27/2011 22:58

Hi Concerned Ex-pat, sorry for the belated reply, you are correct there was a programme called "Every Child Swims" which started after a drowning incident some years ago. However this programme was stopped a few years ago, am not sure why, perhaps because no one had drowned for a while!? As far as I know the majority of the focus following the more recent drowning accident has been on safety on school trips. I am working with some people who are trying to get a nationwide programme for swimming but this will take some time for things to happen so in the meantime we are working on one island on a small scale hoping this might kick start interest in a bigger programme!

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06/24/2012 12:16

First time to your blog and just wanted to say hello.

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09/19/2012 10:42

Just dropped by to say hello, so, hello mate!

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