Love the Oceans is a non-profit marine conservation organisation working in Inhambane, Mozambique. Although, their main mission is to establish a marine protected area in the province of Inhambane they also have several side projects. One of these side projects includes working at local schools teaching the young students about the ocean and all the wonders it holds. Every week the five students that have shown the most enthusiasm are offered Saturday afternoon swimming lessons. With the help of Zoggs, Love The Oceans has begun its latest endeavour; here's their progress so far...
How have the local community reacted to this project?
We have had support from parents and teachers at the local schools and several parents have accompanied their children to the swim lesson. As well as this the local resort owners, of Pleasure Bay resort Paindane, have granted us full access to their swimming pool free of charge. The resort is located near to both of the schools that we teach in which is ideal and has a large shallow area where the children can stand easily, this has been very helpful when teaching the more nervous children.
Why do you think teaching children to swim here is so important?
Recently, there have been several incidences of children drowning in the bay's strong rip currents and Love The Oceans wants to eliminate drowning. We strongly believe that everyone has the right to enjoy water safely!
How have Zoggs supported you?
Zoggs have kindly donated floats and armbands for both adults and children. The inflatable noodles have been the most used item as the older kids are embarrassed to use the armbands and the noodles offer more support. It's fantastic that such a large company is willing to support us as we're such a small organisation but we believe that working locally on small projects like this can have a very effective outcome and it's great that Zoggs believe in us too!
Have you seen any noticeable progress in the students you teach to swim?
Absolutely! We have had a few students who were scared to even put their feet in the pool and now they're bombing into the deep end and racing their friends. One little boy, Crimildo, who was the sole survivor of a drowning incident that killed three of his friends, actually approached us to ask for swim lessons. Now he comes every Saturday without fail and dives in with a mask and snorkel, he not only swims he plays! It's really incredible to see fear become curiosity and enjoyment.
Do you believe the project has made a long-term difference?
We hope so, but this has to be an ongoing project if it's to make a long-term difference. Our ultimate goal is to professionally train some local adults to be swim teachers. We have many small projects in the Inhambane area but one of them is to help struggling fishermen move into the ecotourism industry. Being able to swim means a potential to learn to surf, buy some surfboards, start a surf school. Our dreams may not be huge but they still require long-term commitments and the outcomes are still very important. Love The Oceans' main goal is to protect the vulnerable marine ecosystem in this region, but this can only be sustainably managed if it is a locally lead innovative. Why would people protect what they fear? Love The Oceans' aim is to create an appreciation of the ocean and all it holds so that the vulnerability and need for management can be recognised and understood indefinitely. We know this won't happen overnight and this is why small projects such as these swimming lessons are so important, they are little paddles towards a bigger goal.
Thank you Zoggs for all your support!