LSV Building Leaders Scholarship Reflection

IMOGEN AND JACK: ON LOCATION IN SRI LANKA

Fairhaven SLSC young club members Imogen Dingle and Jack Lynch have completed another chapter in their Life Saving Victoria’s “Building Leaders” scholarships – two week’s working with remote Sri Lankan communities. Previously, they began their professional development and mentoring program with workshops and advanced leadership training.

Here’s Imi and Jack’s report of their time in Sri Lanka:

Imi the instructor and Jack the patient,
and the training development squad

We agree that this experience the highlight of our time involved in lifesaving. Spending two weeks representing Fairhaven in Sri Lanka to help improve their lifesaving skills was equally rewarding for those that we worked with and ourselves – the tourists. It is estimated that around 1000 people drown annually in Sri Lanka which, in comparison to Victoria’s eight last year, is staggering. It is realistic to think that the Building Leaders programme that we were involved in (facilitated by LSV) will save lives.

The trip’s intention was not only aimed at employed Sri Lankan lifeguards but others who were working in the tourism industry and regularly interacting with tourists. We also worked with the Life Saving Association of Sri Lanka, a volunteer organisation (similar to LSV), to ‘up-skill’ their trainers so that they teach relevant course material to their fellow volunteer lifesavers. This was particularly prudent work as there had been no formal lifesaving training for the Lifesaving Association of Sri Lanka since the 1970s.

We were able to successfully run two separate internationally accredited programmes to over forty participants: The Pool Lifeguard Course and the International Lifesaver Award. Each of these awards included extensive training in Senior First Aid, CPR, and rescue techniques.

These workshops were run in two locations. Negombo is a broadening tourist destination that is predominantly a fishing town. It is located on the East Coast just north of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, and was where we spent our first week. The second week was held in the southern town, Galle. This area was devastated by the tsunami in 2004 so the participants’ innate ability to find real applications for theoretical teaching was clear.

Despite a lack of English and occasionally floundering water skills we were both impressed by the participants’ enthusiasm and ability to quickly grasp various new methodologies. They were eager and willing to learn new things and then integrate these into their daily practice. There was no shortage of smiling and laughter within the sessions. Hands were shaken at each day’s conclusion and thousands of photos were taken. These signs of appreciation were not lost on us as it was an indication they absorbed what we had taught them whilst enjoying themselves.

Thankyou to Lifesaving Victoria and all those involved in creating such a great opportunity for us including Fairhaven and LSV stalwart, Nancy Joseph. It was an honour to represent Fairhaven offshore and receiving support from the club has been instrumental in giving us the chance to start what will hopefully be a long relationship and prosperous relationship with lifesaving in Sri Lanka.