We are looking for confident swimmers to help us provide swimming lessons to adults here on Banda Island. Read below to find out why and how your support could help us save lives.
Our projects are currently based on Banda Island, one of the smallest inhabited islands in the Ssese region of Uganda. Lake Victoria is an essential part of life here on the islands.: it is the main resource for food, freshwater and irrigation, as well as serving as supply for alternative energy, a route for transportation and a sink for human, agricultural and industrial waste. You can read more about the vital role of Lake Victoria on our previous blog post here. However, it is also the body of water with the most deaths caused by drowning per square kilometre in the world, which affects the communities of this region terribly. In the last three years only, drowning has caused us the loss of 25 people from our 3 neighbouring villages, 9 of which were fishermen from Banda Village itself. Banda has a total population of around 400 people only, and these high rates of accidents cause incredible loss to the community.
In a community where the economy depends mainly on fishing, not being able to swim puts the people and fishermen in terrible danger, and yet most people living on the Ssese Islands cannot swim. This is through no fault of their own, but the simple fact that fishermen risk their lives each day and night highlights the ever pressing importance of this issue. It is not only fishermen who are at risk: the islands suffer from a lack of important infrastructure, such as hospitals, health facilities, and schools, which means that a lot of people need to travel to the mainland or nearby islands to have access to their services. Moreover, economic opportunities on the islands are limited, so people also regularly travel for trade, carrying goods and livestock, or commuting between the mainland and the islands to balance work and family life. This adds up to a lot of people, traveling regularly on open canoes that don’t exactly emanate the greatest sense of safety. Most drownings occur because when the canoes capsize, people can’t swim nor float, themselves to safety.
Through our school, Banda Island Primary School, we have been teaching regular swimming classes to the children, which is proving to have great results. We are extremely proud to say that Sumayiya, 9 years old, is officially the first female swimmer on the island; whilst Gerald, 13, can now comfortably cover the distance of 4 Olympic pool laps. However, swimming classes for adults are urgently needed to prevent the loss of further valuable members of our community. We are looking for confident swimmers to help us provide these lessons as soon as possible, especially for the fishermen who depend on the lake for an income and are therefore most at risk. Please get in touch if you, or someone you know, would be interested in joining us in providing this support to the community of Banda Island. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.