Cisarua, 19 January 2018 – Swimming is a skill many of us take for granted: maybe we are accustomed to beach holidays, or live close to the ocean, or grew up attending schools with swimming programmes.
However, for a refugee from an arid and landlocked country such as Afghanistan, swimming skills are not a given; and lacking these skills can often be a death sentence. This is especially true if you are forced to flee to another country via rickety boats across restless seas, as many Afghans have had to do to.
Najib is a Hazara who fled Afghanistan for Indonesia, and is currently faced with a long wait for resettlement. Before arriving in Indonesia, he had no idea how to swim. Now he is learning with help from a few coaches: local children who frequent the neighbourhood swimming pool.
“When I swim, I forget all my problems being a refugee. Swimming is the thing that makes me feel good.”
Often, we think of psycho-social support as confined to the work of trained professionals. But, as Najib shows us, the key to a healthier state of mind and heart can often come from unexpected people who may themselves be unaware of their own ability to change lives.
In fact, the young children who spend time teaching Najib how to swim likely have little idea of what they contribute to his wellbeing. They just #Do1Thing and that has made all the difference.