An empowerment programme organised by this Austrian based group has among it’s several programmes swimming and driving. Women and children have being trained to swim so that they can protect themselves from a future tsunami. “I learnt swimming because most of us who were affected by the tsunami did not know how to swim. After learning it now, I will be able to save not only myself but also others, in case of another tsunami,” said S Madumitra, a student.
Archana Kapoor, Indian partner of “Women Without Borders” said reports following tsunami estimated a large number of deaths of women and children since they did not know to swim. The training would prepare them for future mishap and enable them to save themselves and others.
“First of all, we are working in the tsunami affected areas. And the .. report which came out soon after tsunami made it very clear that a lot of women and children lost their lives. And the main reason was that they did not know how to swim and they were so afraid of climbing trees or looking for support because they were totally taken aback. That was one of the reasons where we thought that if we could teach them to swim, then they cannot only protect their own lives but they can also save others,” said Archana Kapoor.
Initially, women participating from Mamallapuram were hesistant to wear swimming costumes or to drive auto rickshaws. But to the surprise of Edit Schlaffer, the founder of “Women Without Borders”, they soon acclimatised themselves to the enviornment. They felt that driving would help them ferry the fishes fast to the market. “Surprisingly enough, women really crossed traditional barriers. They even learnt how to drive a car. They were very eager to think of new ways to bring the fish to the market,” said Edit Schlaffer. More than 50 children enrolled themselves for swimming. The Austrian based group was assisted in it’s mission to empower the women by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu.
Besides swimming and driving, the women were also trained in self-defence, leadership and economic emancipation