Malawi Aquatic Union takes lifesaving to another level for rural areas

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawi Aquatic Union’s Lifesaving Society is set to take its objective of preventing and stopping drowning at local level along the shores of Lake Malawi by training lifesaving skills to youths, starting with Nkhata Bay next week.

Lytton Mabeti, a qualified lifeguard by professional and swimming instructor at St. Andrews International High School, says the Nkhata Bay initiative is being done in collaboration with South Africa’s lifesaving society, which is St. Andrews’ main examination center.

Lifeguard Mabeti

The South Africa’s lifesaving society is sending its examiner Deon Woodley, who will work with Mabeti in the Nkhata Bay outreach project.

Mabeti said Woodley is expected to arrive in Malawi from Durban on February 17 through Chileka Airport ready to start the course from February 18 to 23.

He added that Malawi Aquatic Union’s Lifesaving Society got connected with the South African partners through St. Andrews International High School, who have a serious Physical Education (PE) programme in their curriculum for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).

“Nkhata Bay was chosen due to an increase of drowning incidents, especially during festive season, Easter holidays and other celebration holidays,” Mabeti said.

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“And It is also because Nkhata Bay’s beaches are tourists destination and having a serious lifesaving services can encourage more tourists that in turn boost the country’s economy.

“Most tourists who want to swim along these beaches, which are very deep, always ask for lifeguard supervision,” he said.

Nkhata Bay is deepest part of Lake Malawi

The course is expected to attract over 12 trainees from the tourists holiday resorts and from the local communities.

The skills include swimming, life saving, surveillance on swimmers, how to respond and rescue the person in danger.

They are also expected to be trained on how to respond to a rescued victim through First Aid.

The project shall then be sustained through Nkhata Bay-based Alex Ndipo, in partnership with Mabeti from Blantyre.

Serious lifesaving done in advanced countries

Malawi Lifesaving Society was registered in 2014 under Malawi Aquatic Union, the mother body of swimming in the country.

Mabeti said they first targeted school students, especially from schools who have swimming facilities such as St. Andrews, Kamuzu Academy and BMS.

However, the students who are trained as lifeguards leave these schools for further studies elsewhere, nowhere near the lakeshore.

An alert lifeguard

“Lifesaving skills or equipment along Lake Malawi are almost non-existent in the local communities with just a few at the holiday resorts.

“Lifesaving skills are very important in order to save others from drowning and to resuscitate those that have been rescued.

“At the same time, it is also some sort of sport through regular exercises the lifeguards undergo to keep their bodies fit and healthy.

Njaya Lodge in Nkhata Bay

“It is also a serious career from which one can get employment,” Mabeti said.