by Belinda Lawton, RLSSA
Amy Peden has spent most of the past five months on the road – literally. As the Survival Swimming / Water Safety Project Officer for The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC), gathering information from the local community in Da Nang, Vietnam has meant plenty of roadside meetings at small cafes across the provinces.
But while a dusty road might seem an uncomfortable setting for collecting background for TASC and the Hanoi School of Public Health’s Safe Da Nang project, it’s the part of the job Amy has come to value the most. The Safe Da Nang project aims to reduce injury, particularly drowning, in the region in coming years.
“Getting out and involving local people in the project has been really rewarding. There is a real need for drowning prevention work in Vietnam, so people have been very open to talking about the specific issues in Da Nang,” Amy said.
“The real highlight for me has been the way people have welcomed me into their lives, even inviting me into their homes.
“I worked for the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia until late 2008 so I had a background in drowning research and prevention, but working out how to localise that knowledge to suit the Vietnamese culture and environment has been interesting.
“On the most basic level, phrases like ‘survival swimming’ just don’t translate clearly into Vietnamese. So engaging with the local people has been critical for getting this project to work.”
This project continues Royal Life Saving’s close partnership with TASC and aims to reduce the burden of drowning in the region, following on from the success of a similar project in partnership with the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research – Bangladesh.
Amy will be based in Da Nang for a year as part of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program, funded by the Australian Government. During that time, Amy is working with local counterparts to share some of Australia’s expertise in drowning prevention, to ensure the drowning prevention project in Da Nang is developed in a sustainable way. These experiences will be shared on a global stage in 2011 when Da Nang hosts the next major international World Water Safety conference.