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AWSOM Project 2020

Ocaquatics visits The AWSOM Project to observe Drowning Prevention Efforts in Vietnam.

The World Health Organization estimates that there are as many as 30 drownings in Vietnam every single day. Drowning rates were especially high in the Mekong Delta area where there is water everywhere. The families in this area are also very poor and often times children are left alone while their parents are at work.

But a few special people, wanted to try to change this. After seeing the drowning rates and hearing stories of children and families who had been affected by drowning, Nikki Grazulis and Bev Christmass from Australia decided teaching swimming lessons and water safety could help make a difference in this community.

In 2012 Nikki and Bev traveled to Vietnam to teach swimming lessons. They took 8 teachers on the volunteer mission and they worked with a local charity. There they met Ms. Tuyet Vo thi. On that trip a plan was hatched.

Nikki and Bev decided to go back every year to assist with their drowning prevention program. They started the Australian Water Safety on the Mekong project (AWSOM Project) in 2013. Since then they have taught over 2000 children in the program. Amazingly enough, there have been no drownings in this area in the past year. Their main focus is teaching water safety, drowning prevention and CPR classes. In community education programs, they teach children and adults what to do when someone gets in trouble in the water and how to help them without putting themselves in danger.

In addition to teaching swimming lessons to disadvantaged children in the region, they also work with a group of deaf children at a school run by a Catholic charity. Most of the children are orphans but through a child disability scholarship program approximately 100 children every year receive year round lessons.

And one of the most unique parts of the AWSOM Project is their teacher training and scholarship program. So far 21 teachers from Vietnam have been flown to Perth in Australia for swimming teacher training where they learn how to teach swimming lessons and water safety. This ensures that the program runs year round and not just when the volunteer teachers are able to come help from Australia.

Our director Miren Oca was fortunate enough to be invited to visit the AWSOM program in My Tho in the Mekong Delta area. Ocaquatics donated 350 pieces of swim wear and diapers to the program in hopes that more children could participate in the program. Ocaquatics is so grateful and proud that there are amazing individuals in the world like Nikki, Bev and Ms. Tuyet who take on such large projects and make a difference in the lives of all of these families. They are great role models to us all!

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