This is a story is about a little girl who rescued her two friends from drowning this summer.
Khánh, 12 years old, joined World Vision Vietnam's community-based swimming program last year, 2022. The program was implemented by World Vision, in collaboration with Youth and local Child Protection agencies in Lac Son district, Hoa Binh province.
When we went to Lac Son district to verify the information and capture the story, we were surprised when we first saw Khánh in real life. There came the little girl with tan skin who welcomed us with a shy smile.
Khánh is happily swimming. Photo: World Vision
Summer last year
“Innitially, I did not agree for Khánh to participate in the program." Ms. Dân, Khanh's mother shared the concern she used to have with us.
"When I first heard about the activity [of the community-based swimming program], I did not know for certain whether that swimming class is safe or not for her. Also, compared to peers, Khanh is much thinner. So my family did not feel secure enough to let her try it".
Then came the World Vision and local Youth officials who paid visits to their house to discuss the advantages of joining such class to their kids. "Besides, it made me feel safe when they mentioned about the safety measure taken in the class such as child safeguarding policy, life vets, lifebuoy, certified trainer's surveillance, fences....Having her older brother joining in Khanh's activities in the class also made the family feels more secure, so we agreed for her to try out the program." Ms. Dan share with World Vision.
World Vision officers visit each household to discuss about the advantages of drowning prevention for children and the community. Photo: World Vision.
Since then, there have been many changes.
Ms. Dan added, “Khanh was inherently quiet. Through the time participating in swimming classes as well as the activities of the Children Club organized by World Vision, I see that my daughter has become more confident, and also has better awareness of her surrounding environment. When she got home from the class, she frequently told me, her father, and her grandparents with joy about how she was learning to swim".
Khanh during a swimming lesson at the Children Club in Lac Son district. Photo: World Vision
Summer this year
This year Khanh has become a proficient swimmer. Outside of swimming class, she still regularly practices swimming on her own in the shallow lake beside her house.
Observing that their children have become more agile and active when participating in swimming lessons with their peers, their families are delighted. Plenty of local families show their support to this community-based swimming modality, as it engages their kids in such joyful, and meaningful life skills.
World Vision staff always accompany the children in local activities.
Photo: World Vision.
Khanh retold us the incident happened one afternoon in May, 2023.
That day, Khanh went out with two other friends to the big lake near her house. While they were playing, two of her friends drowned.
Khanh rescued two of her friends in the incident. A scene reimagined by World Vision.
Khanh said, “At one point, I heard Vy and Hien's call for help. I was so concerned for my friends that I tried my best to swim out to save them ashore.” Because her friends could not swim, Khanh had to pull their hair and help them get to the shore, one by one. “When Hien and Vy reached the shore, they coughed and choked on water.”
Ms. Dân recalls her shock when she first heard that her daughter and her friends had survived drowning. When she first heard the story from neighbors, she was quite confused and stressed. Only after hearing the story from her daughter did she understand what has happened and believe it. "At first when I heard the news, I did not believe my daughter had collected that much courage to save her friends like that.”
"Fortunately, my daughter and her two friends survived this ordeal, otherwise I don't know what might happen to them." Ms. Dan was still frightened about the incident, told us.
The tremendous of the community-based swimming training modality
Many other parents also said this community-based swimming modality brings many good to families and communities. The children not only master swimming and drowning prevention skills but also learn with their peers and participate in meaningful networking activities, thereby helping them develop themselves. Communal communities also realize the power of joining hands to contribute and create a safe and healthy environment with meaningful activities for children.
After the incident of Khanh saving his friend became known to many people in the village, the whole family and the community in the area expressed their appreciation for the efforts that World Vision in Vietnam is making.
Community-based swimming class in Lac Son, Hoa Binh. Photo: World Vision.
Mr. Bui Minh Tang, vice chairman of the local People's Committee said, "There are many ponds, lakes, rivers and streams in our local area. Meanwhile, plenty of our kids have not equipped with much self-protection skills against the risk of drowning. So when World Vision widely launched community-based swimming training modality in our commune, I was delighted to see that our children were actively participating in and enjoying their learning. Drowning prevention is also one of the important life skills that we want our kids to pick up.”
The commune vice president also wishes that more World Vision activities take place in the commune to bring safe, healthy, and meaningful lives to children and local communities. “I also very much applaud the spirit of World Vision for their meaningful contributions to the entire community.”
According to World Health Organization (WHO) "Drowning is an important and under-addressed cause of mortality with a predisposition to affect children and those in low- and middle-income countries."
World Vision does not encourage children to participate in swimming without adult supervision.