Want to help drowning prevention in Mozambique? Here’s how

Regular readers of our blog will know at SwimTayka our work is all based on partnerships with local projects around the globe, which are already working hard to support their communities.

One project we have teamed up with is Love the Oceans, in Mozambique, which is setting up a Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) along the coastline of Jangamo.

The charity is supporting the community in protecting and studying the diverse marine life, and using research, education and diving to drive action towards a more sustainable future. Drowning prevention is an important part of the work of Love the Oceans, and that’s where the SwimTayka partnership comes in.

One local man, who has been working for Love the Oceans for six years, is Pascoal Nhamussua, the charity’s Community Outreach Manager.

For Pascoal, his role with the charity is a world away from his previous job as a fisherman, and one which he clearly loves.

Even though he was always in the sea, line and spearfishing from the shore, he didn’t know how to swim and would ensure he never went out of his depth. Through Love the Oceans he’s not only learnt to swim, he has become an instructor and is instrumental in teaching local children. 

“When Love the Oceans set up, they were looking for local people who could speak Portuguese and English,” said Pascoal. “I’d just left school and could speak both languages, as well as the local language, so I joined. I was first involved in the conservation side, then the swimming and now I am doing my PADI Open Water SCUBA certification.

“When I was fishing, it would worry me that I couldn’t swim, but we had nobody to teach us. We had a beautiful sea, but we were all non-swimmers. This is changing now, thanks to Love the Oceans and SwimTayka.”

Pascoal explained there have been many drowning fatalities along the coastline where he lives and works, but – as more children are being taught – this statistic, thankfully, is falling.

Swimming lessons currently take place in a rented pool some 45 minutes’ drive away, to which Pascoal, Love the Oceans founder Francesca Trotman and four local helpers have to transport the children. It’s hoped that soon a new pool in Jangamo will open, so more children can benefit from the lessons. Funds for the new pool and deeper plunge pool have come from a variety of sources, including from the Duchess of Sussex and clipper yacht sailor Ursula Marren.

Pascoal clearly gets a lot of enjoyment from teaching the children.

“They are full of questions, and have so much to ask and I love to teach them and to help the community. They are keen to learn, but it is very new to them so in the first day or two they just stand in the pool. Some of them find it a bit cold and don’t want to put their heads in the water, but after a bit they all start swimming and they are so excited when they learn. We’ve also got some new wetsuits for our youngest swimmers so that will help with the cold.”

Pascoal and Francesca are now beginning to teach adults in the community, and are running a workshop for women to find out how they can best engage with them. 

“This will be more difficult, because it is so new to them. Also, we had to stop lessons during Covid, but we hope that next year we can get going again.”

Pascoal is hoping SwimTayka volunteers will be there to help him when lessons restart, so even more children from the three areas they cover can learn. If they can get another pool built along the coast in Coconut Bay, they may even be able to expand the programme.

So what does Pascoal look for in a volunteer?

“They need to be friendly, so they can play with the children and so they feel free to ask anything of the volunteers. It makes it so much easier. It’s fine if they only speak English, as I can translate for them and we also use picture signs the children can hold up when they want something, so language is not a problem.

“Also, if our volunteers are swim teachers, I can learn from them too and become a better instructor myself.”If you like the sound of helping Pascoal and Francesca to help children learn to swim and turn the tide against drowning in Mozambique, then we’d love to talk to you about becoming a SwimTayka volunteer. Please get in touch to find out more about our programme in August 2022.