A week well-spent with Swimdo in the “black river” of Sebangau

Outreach Blog

by Petricia A. Hutasoit

We would like to send you a very warm greeting from the Sebangau River. Also known as the black river, when someone gets close to it, the river actually looks a bit reddish and brown. Under the sun, the river resembles the giant dark pearl that attracts everyone to jump and swim into it. From Palangka Raya, the Sebangau river is the only access to the Sebangau peat-swamp forest that is 7 times the size of Singapore which becomes the home for the largest wild orangutan population in the lowland forest of Borneo.

Not only that the river becomes the source of the income for the local people, but it also serves as the big swimming pool for children who live in the village of Kereng Bangkirai and Sabaru. Being born in the riverside where the river is just a few walks away from their door, the children have been learning to swim at a very early age. However, it seems to be like these children lack of the proper techniques and knowledge while swimming. Learning proper techniques of swimming from the expert will prevent the injury while in the water.

Some children received the instruction for safe swimming from Swimdo instructor
Photo by Rory Moon | Swimdo | Borneo Nature Foundation

As for the above-mentioned reason, recently we were visited by Swimdo, a nonprofit organization based in Bali, that is concerned with issues of the rate of kids drowning in Asia. The purpose of this visit is to give the training for the members of Anak Sebangau regarding the proper techniques of swimming to prevent the unwanted things to happen such as getting injured and drowning. In addition to that, Swimdo also trained children to feel more relaxed while in the water and learn how to rescue other people in the water by using available resources around them such as sticks, t-shirt, water bottle, and can.

Swimdo spent one full week with the Anak Sebangau members. The children look very enthusiastic to learn fun swimming techniques from Swimdo. Most of the children like when it came to a role-play session that split the group of the children into a victim and a rescuer. The role-play allows children to practice what they got from Swimdo when facing the unwanted condition such as what to do when finding somebody that was drowning.

Rahmat, a male member of Anak Sebangau from Kereng village, told us “I’m so happy to have given the opportunity with Swimdo. I benefitted from several techniques being taught such as floating and saving more energy in the water”.

Happy pose after the training: Anak Sebangau members (front) with Swimdo instructors (back)
Photo by Petricia A. Hutasoit |Borneo Nature Foundation

In line with Rahmat, Annisa, one of the Anak Sebangau members, looks so happy to have learned swimming techniques in such fun way led by Swimdo. Instead of only focusing on swimming, now Annisa and her other friends in Anak Sebangau know more important lessons while swimming which include; the proper techniques of safe swimming, rescuing other people by using available resources, and CPR.

As for Swimdo, getting in touch with the children and spend a full week giving them training is somehow unforgettable. “BNF is such a great organization, I met a full team of super passionate people who are willing to dedicate their time and energy for the environment and these (Anak Sebangau) children” said Agus, a Swimdo teacher.
It was not only the Anak Sebangau members who benefitted from this one-week programme, but some staff from BNF also got involved with the activity to learn the proper swimming and rescue techniques.

By the end, we are so glad to have the opportunity with Swimdo. They have invested a great work for the Anak Sebangau Education Programme. And, we would love to see and share our experience with them in the future.