UK Space Agency get to hear about SwimTayka

The UK space agency allows their staff volunteering time for charities and Jody Fry prepared and published this article on the internal news about SwimTayka.

Did you know more than 40 people drown every hour somewhere in the world? That’s more than 360,000 people a year. Drowning is also the 3rd leading cause of death in children under 14 years old and 90% will be in developing countries.

Jody Fry, PA to the CEO, has been a Trustee for the charity SwimTayka (say swim-tie-ka) which she helped create in December 2017. Here she tells us more about the charity and how it aims to tackle these shocking statistics.

My recent trip in September to Nungwi, Tanzania came about as SwimTayka were invited by an NGO there, to assist them with their teach the teacher scheme.

Tanzania has high death rates from drowning and just a few days into our trip, came the terrible news that a ferry capsized and 224 people drowned there. A sobering reminder about why we were there.

The Panji project runs a very successful Drowning Prevention programme and we saw an opportunity to learn more about it in exchange for helping them to develop their existing Swimming Clubs.

So three SwimTayka volunteers visited the project near Zanzibar on the island of Unguja.

We arrived in the village of Nungwi and were met by the very charismatic Mkembe in whose house we would be staying. When volunteering we always prefer to stay in a local family home as we feel we develop relationships and trust within the community more quickly, rather than staying in an expensive (comparatively) tourist Hotel and we hopefully avoid the “rich white people coming in here telling us what to do” label. Mkembe and his heavily pregnant wife Aisha made us feel so welcome and an added bonus was that Mkembe spoke English!

As the only non-swimming volunteer, I stayed at home every day writing the new training manuals whilst Bryan and Becky headed to the classroom then onto the beach. I know who got the raw deal there!

We were training 12 people altogether, 6 men and 6 women. When they teach kids there, the youngest can be taught by men or women but as this is a Muslim island, it becomes stricter as they get older. Older girls cannot be taught by men and teenage boys cannot be taught by women, so it was great that we had a male and a female teacher.

Our lessons were challenging as only two students spoke English and the small amount of Swahili we had between us wasn’t enough to conduct a lesson in for sure.

2 weeks passed quickly and at the end our students took an exam which resulted in 11 teachers and 1 teaching assistant, now competent to teach 4 swimming strokes, with the knowledge of how to attract more kids and develop ideas for swimming clubs, competitions and how to fund or get sponsorship for them. This was amazing as the teachers will now disperse around the island and reach out to almost 10,000 children there. I think you could call that a success! We also developed 4 training manuals (all translated into Swahili) which will become part of the SwimTayka portfolio to offer to other NGO projects.

For more information about SwimTayka, please visit our website or come and see me in the Swindon office. You could become a volunteer yourself, donate money, or any unwanted children’s swimming gear.