By Eve Fraser, charter president of the Rotary Club of Global Water Safety & Drowning Prevention
Who would have thought a soccer team getting stuck in a cave in remote Thailand would lead to the chartering of a new Rotary club for water safety and drowning prevention? Yet here we are!
In April 2021, the United Nations declared drowning to be the number-one cause of preventable deaths around the world. Africa and Asia were identified as the most affected regions. I had observed over the years swimming teachers delivering lessons to communities in need, struggling with the sheer volume of people who needed to learn to swim and the funding to deliver those programs. I imagined a club where members with the knowledge, skills, and experience worked together to train swimming teachers and help communities deliver sustainable programs.
Last year on UN World Drowning Prevention Day, 25 July, we chartered a cause-based Rotary club with a group of passionate aquatic educators and industry leaders who were committed to advancing access to quality swimming lessons. We’re focused on bringing minds together in a supportive, collaborative, and collective environment to save lives globally and attract people to Rotary through our results.
Our goal is to ensure that every child can swim before they finish primary school to create generational change. To achieve that, we launched our Swimming Gift project, where we ask Rotary clubs to give US$650 a year to support swimming lessons for primary school children. If every club around the world supports one school a year, we can teach every child to swim before they finish primary school.
Our club is truly global, as we meet in 17 countries and represent multiple cultures and diverse backgrounds. But for all our differences, our members join for the same reason: to reduce the number of preventable deaths and near drowning events every year.
We build peace and tolerance by sharing our experiences and serving communities through our passion for water safety and drowning prevention. Since we’re united by a cause instead of a location, our impact reaches way beyond the four walls of a meeting room. Our collective capacity for change is driven by technology, with more creative ways to raise funds and meet challenges wherever and whenever they present.
We’ve launched several projects in the six months since we chartered. We’ve completed two district grant projects, one in Uganda and the other in Thailand. We’ve formed relationships with Rotary in Australia, where our club chartered, and in every country where our members live.
As all our meetings are held on Zoom, we work with other Rotary clubs around the world so our members can discover the fellowship of Rotary, joining local meetings in their home district. Learn more about our club on our website.
Fascinating article and a very worthwhile focus. Our Rotary Club of Sebastopol (California, District 5130) continues our own Learn to Swim program for all city area 2nd graders that began in 1984. We would love to communicate with President Eva Fraser to compare and share what we have done and learned over nearly 4 decades and some 13,000 participating 2nd grade kids. Please send an email or text so we can begin what I suspect will be a worthwhile conversation.
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