As many as 350 children and elderly persons in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang were equipped with swimming skills via seven classes held with assistance from Australian volunteers.

This is the fourth year members of the AWSOM volunteering group have opened classes of this kind in Tien Giang, with the help of province’s Union of Friendship Organisations and relevant agencies.

The classes, running from January 4-9, are also part of a programme on preventing and reducing drowning on Mekong River in 2015.

Bev Chrismas, founder of the AWSOM Group, said the learners are taught how to swim properly and react if falling into water.

The right way to save a drowning person is one of topics discussed in the classes along with skills for children to survive in a region with many water bodies and rivers.

The volunteers also held workshops for parents and My Tho city’s Association of the Elderly on why it is necessary to have swimming and rescue skills.

Drowning is one of the leading child killers in Vietnam, with over 3,300 deaths in 2012, equivalent to about nine cases every day. The figure is 10 times higher than the average figure of regional developing countries. Half of the victims were bathing in ponds, lakes, rivers or the sea without adult supervision.-VNA