Phe lives in a rural commune in the heart of Quang Tri district. Her home is surrounded by several bodies of water including a large lake making it a beautiful but treacherous area for the many people there who never have the chance to learn to swim. Phe’s life came to a standstill one tragic afternoon when the water took away two of her beloved daughters. Playing by the river one afternoon, the girls aged 11 and 13 disappeared. Hours of searching ended in tragedy with the two girls’ bodies found in the river.
Phe was determined to protect her daughter and son from the same fate. She heard about Hue Help and NAV’s collaborative “Swim towards Disaster Risk Reduction” programme that organised swimming lessons in local schools in her area. However her family were strongly against allowing the two remaining children to go anywhere near water. Traditional beliefs made them fear that the two remaining children would drown because the spirits from their sisters remain in the river until they can be replaced by two new spirits to finally go to heaven.
After visiting the swimming site Phe decided that despite these traditional beliefs the site, equipment, and class management were safe for her children to attend. Now Phe’s son is one of the 1,800 children that were taught to swim during this year’s programme in Central Vietnam’s most flood prone areas.
During the visit, Phe could not stop telling us how vital swimming lessons for the children in the area are so that a fate like her tragic story can be avoided. She hopes we will expand our programme to have swimming lessons for all children, and that women and girls in the community may one day have the opportunity to learn too as it is never too late to prevent stories like hers from happening again.
It costs 150,000VND or just under £5 to teach a child to swim in Vietnam. Please sponsor swimming lessons today.