This is one of our favourite photos on our website (taken in 2013). The little boy looking at the book is named Robert – he attended Mary’s Little Lambs School until he was 11 years old and those of you who have volunteered there may remember him – I know Yvonne (the volunteer reading the story to him) does. Recently we heard that Robert has tragically died, along with four of his friends. They drowned.
Culturally children in The Gambia do not learn to swim. They are taught to be frightened of the water and to keep away from it, even though there are few places far from either the sea or the River Gambia. However the Gambia is a tourist destination – children see tourists enjoying themselves on the beautiful beaches and swimming in the sea, and of course they want to join in.
Lisong, the owner of Mary’s Little Lambs, wants to do something to make her children safe. She would love to include swimming lessons as part of the curriculum at her school and we would like to support her in this. She has spoken to the parents of her pupils and they are keen for their children to learn to swim as long as this is organised safely through the school. They have found a swimming pool which could be used for the lessons and there is a local man, Ben, who already teaches PE at the school, who is happy to supervise the lessons. Ben can swim himself but does not know how to teach swimming.
Could you be the person we are looking for? We need someone willing to volunteer for at least 4 weeks who can teach swimming – their role would be to get the children started with swimming lessons at the pool, to train Ben in how to teach swimming, and maybe to do some classes with the children on safety in the water. If you are interested please send an email to email@example.com – it would be wonderful if we can help in some small way to enable children in The Gambia to play safely on the beach and in the water.