Last August, our instructors in Benin held our first swim camp for 50 kids over 4 consecutive weekends. Now we are planning for this year's swim camp in August of 2018. A German organization, VIA, http://www.via-ev.org/ has offered to send volunteers to Benin but we need to raise money to ensure the program's success. (see attached report)
Africa has the highest continental drowning rates of any region in the world according to WHO. The people of Benin are literally surrounded by water with the ocean along one side and an inland lake on the other. Along the Rue de Peche in Cotonou, families live their whole life on the beach in fear of the ocean. Because of their proximity to the water, accidental drownings happen frequently. The actual rate of drowning is hard to know as most are not reported.
One way to prevent drowning is to create an awareness of the problem. In addition to teaching swimming, our instructors use water safety messages to teach about the dangers of the environment around Cotonou. These can be anything from using a stick to measure how deep water is to recognizing the dangers of high surf. The real benefit in terms of drowning is just teaching basic survival swimming techniques so if a child is in water they know how to self-rescue.
The drowning epidemic is just being addressed now in Africa and real momentum is being built. We hope to one day work with the government in Benin and the Ministry of Sport to make teaching water safety part of the national curriculum. Swim Benin has already attracted a lot of attention from other water safety and life guarding groups around Africa and the world. As we grow, the aim is also to provide real business opportunities for young Beninese to start swim instruction businesses.