Migrants who come to Australia face the challenge not just of navigating a fresh start, but also of learning how to stay safe in our waterways.

“You must remember that many of us who come from Afghanistan have never really experienced the water before,” said Mohammad Raza Hussainizada.

“When we were kids, we didn’t really go swimming, we didn’t have that opportunity.”

His Afghan Fajar Association Inc (AFAIC) is now helping fellow Afghans in Campbelltown by providing water safety knowledge and swimming classes.

There were lots of joyful splashes yesterday at the conclusion of this season’s Swim 2 Survive program that saw around thirty young people from 5 to 25 years having a blast at the Mt Annan Leisure Centre’s pools.

“Many of them have never swum before and are unaware of the dangers in the water such as currents, rips, submerged objects, and floodwaters,” said Mr Hussainizada.

“They are now encouraged to continue learning to swim better, an important life skill that will help them enjoy our lovely Australian beaches and pools safely.”

As its project manager, Mr Hussainizada added that AFAIC’s swimming and water safety programs not only taught essential skills but also promoted health, fitness, and friendship.

Around a quarter of the people who drown in Australia each year are born overseas, according to Royal Life Saving Australia. The drowning of a person of Indian sub-continent heritage two years ago at a Mt Annan lake is still fresh in the community’s minds.

“Which is why, though we often have to fund it ourselves, AFAIC has been conducting swimming classes every season since 2012,” Mr Hussainizada said.

Participants are transported to the pool free of cost, and yesterday, after receiving their medals and certificates at the end of a four day course, they were treated to pizza and chips, donated by the ever-generous Mevlana Cifci of King Kebab House.

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