By Nadia Surace
IT’S a skill most Australians learn from early childhood and that many take for granted, but for some of our community’s newest residents it’s a skill they’re only just acquainting.
Women in the region’s Afghani and Iraqi communities are now learning to swim for the first time and last week took part in their first ever public swim session at Aquamoves.
After private lessons last year at the home of Shepparton English Language Centre Student Welfare Officer, Leo Houlihan, with confidence gained the girls took to the pool receiving further support from swimming instructors during public opening hours.
“This was a huge and very brave step for them, it’s fantastic,” Mr Houlihan said.
“Closed sessions from the rest of the public are what we’re trying to get away from because we feel that they have the potential to isolate the Afghani and Iraqi women’s communities.”
Afghani Women’s Community Multicultural Education Aid, Zahra Haydar Big agreed and encouraged all women from Shepparton’s 150 Afghani families to learn to swim.
“If a child, or if anybody falls into water than they need to know how to get out,” Ms Haydar Big said.
“In Afghanistan there is not much water, but in Australia wherever you go there is water, so it’s very important.
“This is also about women in the Afghani community learning more about Australian culture and it’s really good for our health too.”
The girls laughed as they learnt the pitfalls of acquainting their new skill.
“We’re very hungry,” Afghani community member, Fatima Zaoli said following her swim.
“And it’s very tiring.
“But this was one of my dreams, to learn how to swim so these lessons are a dream come true.”
Fatima highlighted the importance of learning to swim after her 18-year-old brother died last year when he drowned not being able to swim.
“We should all learn this,” she said.