H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco, the President of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation once said “Sport has the ability to change and save lives; to accomplish great destiny and empower people.”
The words never proved truer than on 1 December 2016 in Kilifi County. Parents, teachers and children gathered at Pine Court Hotel to mark the end of the Kilifi Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Education (PHASE) and Water project in Malindi, Kilifi County. The project was initiated in March 2015 in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Kenya Lifesaving Federation (KLF), the first of its kind in the region through generous funding from Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation at Euros €48,001.
The one year project aimed at improving and reducing incidences of drowning and aquatic injuries through water safety awareness and swimming. 285 pupils were trained in basic swimming, aquatic survival skills and water safety, whereas, 12 teachers were trained in basic swimming skills and first aid.
“It is a great pleasure for the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation to participate in the official closing ceremony of this wonderful Learn-to-Swim programme. In 2014, the World Health Organization published their first ever Global Report and estimated that 372,000 people drowned in 2012. According to the report, more than half of the victims were below the age of 25, with children under the age of five most affected,” Ms Kimberly Jarvis, Senior Project Manager Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, remarked.
Ms Jarvis applauded Amref Health Africa in Kenya, the Ministry of Education, Kenya Life Saving Federation (KLF) and the County Government of Kilifi for making the project a success.
With emphasis on building confidence and enjoyment, children learned the fundamental skills for water safety and for developing a wide range of aquatic skills that are very vital in the county. Malindi has a significant beach, which poses a risk to children, who sometimes lose their lives by drowning. The project is implemented at Karima, Majivuni, Sir Ali and Central Primary Schools.
Speaking during the closing ceremony, Mr Chai Abdalla, the Education Officer at Malindi sub-county noted that the children in the community were very happy with the project and looked forward to the second phase. “Last month, we lost a student from drowning. Such deaths can be prevented if we train our children to swim properly. We are proud to work with Amref Health Africa in Kenya and the Kenya Life Saving Federation to make this county safe and comfortable for our children,” he added.
A total of 187 pupils from five schools in the region attended the ceremony together with 11 teachers. Hussein Abdul, a class five pupil at Sir Ali Primary School testified on the positive impact the training had on him, “I love swimming, but was very much afraid of the deep water. I have witnessed many people losing their lives after drowning in the Indian Ocean. I don’t want to be a victim or to lose a friend in such a horrible and preventable manner. Amref gave me the chance to learn to swim and learn about water safety. After ten lessons, I was totally comfortable and was able to swim breast stroke, freestyle and many more styles,” he confirmed.
The certificates of completion were handed out to pupils and teachers by Ms Kimberly Jarvis and Ms Silvia Tolve in the presence of Martin Maina, the Vice President of KLF and Education Officer Mr Chai Abdalla. Also present was the Amref Kilifi PHASE Project Officer and Water project, Mrs Mary Mathenge, and Project Assistant, Mr Stephen Piko.
The project has so far contributed to the reduction of absenteeism cases and increased enrolments in schools. Additionally, the project has contributed to reduced cases of water based accidents, and reduced cases of drug use and abuse among the youth as the sports keep them engaged and improved social cohesion through intramural and extramural sports programme among school-going children.