|Area||241,038 km2 (93,065 square miles)|
|Drowning rate||12.77 per 100,000|
Yasin Sseguja joined the Emerging Leaders Workshop and the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Malaysia from Uganda. He returned home after the workshop with a plan to increase water safety knowledge and swimming skills amongst school children in Uganda.
For you, what were the highlights of the workshop and conference?
One of the most important things that I learnt was that not having fancy equipment does not have to stop me from helping to stop drowning in Uganda. I met people who showed me how I could use simple things that are available in my country to make rescue equipment that is much cheaper than having to import it. That means that I can still teach people rescue skills and how to save lives. The other thing that was very useful for me was the skills to manage my project. Now I use that information that I learnt every day.
What were the biggest challenges that you faced with your project?
One of the biggest challenges for me was that very few schools in Uganda have access to a swimming pool. That meant that I could not teach swimming in many places. Instead, I had to focus on teaching water safety messages but this is still useful for the children to learn. Also, when I moved outside of the towns, transport is very difficult and it took a long time to reach the schools. The project was going very slowly and I was not happy. I spoke with some of the other Africans from the workshop and we decided that I could teach a lot more people if I worked with a bigger team of trainers. I trained five more people and now we work in pairs, teaching in three different schools at a time. This has made the project move much faster.
How did your project go?
So far I have trained five more trainers and we have visited lots of schools. In the towns, we have been to 70 primary schools so far this year. We taught water safety messages in all of these schools and in 40 of them we had access to a swimming pool so we also taught them to float, ways to improve their swimming and ways to help someone in difficulty in the water. In the villages, progress is slower because of the time that it takes to travel, but we have still taught in 25 schools so far. In the village schools, there is a big problem with children skipping classes to go to swim in rivers, lakes or dams. We encourage the students to stay in school and we teach them about the risks of swimming in those places. In total I think that we have taught 47,000 children water safety messages.
I want to reach another 10 schools in town and another 25 schools in the villages before Christmas. Over Christmas and New Year, I want to teach water safety messages at the beaches because there are lots of people go to the beach then and there are new people there every day. Drowning is common. In 2017, I want to start teaching in secondary schools to the older students.