Albany volunteers give life-saving lessons in Vietnam

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Albany’s Aeneva Poulish with children in Vietnam.
Camera IconAlbany’s Aeneva Poulish with children in Vietnam.

A group of Albany volunteers has given underprivileged Vietnamese children life-saving water safety skills.

An estimated 16 people drown every day in Vietnam, a country with thousands of kilometres of waterways and an inadequate water safety education system.

The Australian Water Safety on the Mekong (AWSOM) project ran for six days in January, with the four Albany locals joining a group of about 20 Australians on the trip.

Nola Osborne, Teleya Beattie, Casey Willmore and Aeneva Poulish spent the week teaching swimming skills and water safety to Vietnamese children.

Some of the children were orphaned or had special needs, and some were afraid to go in the water.

Teleya Beattie, Aeneva Poulish, Casey Willmore and Nola Osborne.
Camera IconTeleya Beattie, Aeneva Poulish, Casey Willmore and Nola Osborne.

The Albany team was based in My Tho on the Mekong River, but they travelled out of the city to spread their water safety message.

“Sometimes we ventured to remote provinces to deliver water safety lessons and drowning prevention clinics,” Ms Osborne said.

“(We worked) in ‘pop-up’ pools which gave us a whole new meaning to swim teaching and improvising, and provided us with unique opportunities we would not normally get to experience.

Casey Willmore.
Camera IconCasey Willmore.

“We spent times in schools delivering water safety education to children and teachers, which included providing basic lessons on CPR.

“Each day was very rewarding and each day was very different.

We touched the lives of many children and their families during our seven days in Vietnam and have been left with memories to last a lifetime.”

On her first trip with AWSOM, Ms Poulish said she found her time in Vietnam “incredibly emotional and even more rewarding”.

Ms Beattie said it was an “honour” to be able to help the Vietnamese children and she was determined to be involved with the AWSOM project again next year.

Nola Osborne.
Camera IconNola Osborne.

The trip had reminded her she should appreciate the small things.

“My experience was something like no other,” she said.

“I had the opportunity to give kids something that I have a passion for, swimming. The kids were undeniably beautiful and precious, they were so grateful and happy for the small time we spent with them.”

Last month’s trip was the second for Mr Willmore.

Teleya Beattie.
Camera IconTeleya Beattie.

“The Mekong delta is such a prominent component of life within this region of Vietnam, which makes learning to swim an essential part of life,” he said.

Working closely with Vietnamese people showed him how similar their perspectives on life were to his.

“This connection between people is what allows a program like this to flourish and produce outcomes that truly make a difference,” Mr Willmore said.

Working closely with Vietnamese people showed him how similar their perspectives on life were to his.

“This connection between people is what allows a program like this to flourish and produce outcomes that truly make a difference,” he said.

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