Monday 20 June 2005
From: Claire de Boursac
Received by: Email.
The success of the swimming project reported in the media.
Aid Sri Lanka is supporting a project to teach women and girls in Weligama, Southern Sri Lanka to swim.
The Aid Sri Lanka Swimming Project in Weligama caught the attention of a journalist from Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun who chose it as the focus of his piece on 6 months on from the tsunami.
Mr Hiramoto observed a practice session by the enthusiastic girls, overseen by interim swimming teacher Pauline. With swimming coach Chris currently in the UK fundraising for the project, Pauline is supervising practice sessions for the girls and women so that they do not loose the confidence and skills they have already developed.
In the interview the new swimmers were unanimous that the fear of the tsunami was the motivation for learning to swim. One young girl said she wanted to learn so that she could save herself and others if there was another tsunami. They explained that culturally, women do not swim in this area and they had never had the opportunity to learn before. Indeed, none of the women had ever been in water deeper than their ankles. They were all very grateful for the chance this project provides.
A number of parents and older swimmers observed the session from the shade of the palm trees lining the pool. Sri Lankan culture necessitates that the women have privacy to swim in and this secluded pool provides the ideal setting for these lessons.
It was most impressive to see the girls in the water and incredible to see the progress they are making. For some of them it was only their third lesson but already they looked perfectly at home in the water and were gliding across the small pool under the watchful eye of Pauline. When asked how they felt in the water the response was “proud”, and rightly so.
We have been delighted with the success of this project and with the continued support and enthusiasm of Chris and the girls we have no doubt that it will continue to grow, offering more and more women the chance to swim.