ASIA Khammouane Laos

Introducing the Swimming Laos program in Oudomsouk

The Swimming Laos initiative was launched by my friend Simon in 2013 in order to reduce the high number of drownings throughout the country. Since March 2014, the program provided basic swimming skills to 250 children from 12 primary schools in Vientiane. This year, Swimming Laos extended its activities in the Nakai plateau (Khammouane province) where the construction of a hydroelectric dam in 2010 resulted in the creation of a vast artificial lake and resettlement of 17 villages. Before coming to Laos Simon had offered me to join him and Bob, another coach, to help them giving swimming lessons in two of these villages (Oudomsouk & Thalang). And that’s how I got to live an amazing human adventure…

The whole thing was quite surrealistic. We were in the middle of nowhere, with our gear from the Vientiane swimming pool (kickboards, pull buoys, noodles…), teaching in a lake to Lao kids wearing European soccer team jerseys. What made it even more surrealistic for me was the fact that I only spoke a few words in lao and so repeated them a lot : “Pao naï nam!” (blow in the water!); “Bung fa!” (look at the sky!); “Dee laï!” (great!). I focused so much on a good pronunciation that the children started to believe I was bilingual and spoke lao to me, calling me “Ajahn Seb” (Master Seb). They were very enthusiastic and interested in the lessons and I was impressed to see the huge progress they made in 10 days. I took so many photos of their happy faces that I decided to dedicate two posts to this adventure, starting with the kids of Oudomsouk.

IMG_5848IMG_4651DSC023313IMG_4756IMG_5106IMG_5109IMG_5100IMG_5110IMG_47141IMG_5101IMG_5066IMG_5946IMG_5078DSC02375IMG_5923IMG_5906IMG_50524One day we found a lot of these small, decorated baskets washed up on the bank. They had been put in the river the night before during a ceremony celebrating the end of both the buddhist lent and the rainy season.

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