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- Giving to Heriot’s
In September, Sophie Mackaness (2016) travelled to Mozambique with the organisation Love the Oceans. The organisation undertakes marine conservation research and education with the local community, including providing swimming lessons and advising on young women’s sexual health education.
Sophie collected swimwear and stationery from kind donations from school parents that included 44 pairs of boys’ shorts, 20 girls’ swimming costumes, 18 caps, 9 bucket hats, 15 rash vests and 13 pairs of goggles.
In October Sophie gave us an update from her trip to Mozambique.
In Sophie’s words:
I had an incredible time away; plenty of research diving (measuring and identifying corals, sponges and fish), whale watching, fisheries monitoring and teaching! The swimming lessons that the donations went towards were completely hectic and absolutely wonderful. Around 40 children (somehow) squeeze into one pickup truck that collects them from the local school (Guinjata Primary) and brings them to a resort pool that allows the charity I was working for to use their pool in the offseason/winter. The children are roughly split by ability and pick swimwear/goggles from a pile before going to their designated area for the lesson.
All 40 kids are in the small pool at once, along with us volunteers who demo strokes and help them to swim widths – this largely comprises of leaping between kids and holding them up when they begin to sink… After around 30-40mins the next group comes in and the knackered (and very cold!) kids swap out.
The swimwear will be so valuable to the organisation – making sure that each child has something that fits when they get there and are comfortable in. I think the biggest difference will be made by having all the goggles! Most of the goggles they had were broken and tied at the side so they kept more water in than out and made it really tricky for the kids to swim. Have no doubt that everything that was sent over will be used and appreciated and make such a difference to the program.
These kids are so brave at the pool – its freezing cold, they cant see out of their water-logged goggles, theres not enough space to swim and they move up to areas out of their depth before they can properly swim. Nevertheless, they work so hard for the entire lesson (while we hold them up/try to make sure none of them sink while swimming widths!) and finish each one with incredible improvements. They are so grateful to be able to take part in lessons and use the swimwear/goggles provided and I know that the donations from Heriot’s will make that possible for more and more children. For me personally, it was one of the most rewarding, and stressful, experiences I’ve ever had. There’s a very special joy and pride in a child that swims for the first time.