Okay, you’re going to have to be a little patient with the backstory to fully appreciate how great this news really is.
Paul and I met in a swimming pool 34 years ago. Since then, our main exercise has been swimming. We love the water! At various times we’ve had our Red Cross water safety instructor licenses, lifeguard training, scuba instruction. We came to Thailand and learned that the number-one killer of Thai kids is drowning …
We met with the Governot of our province and he agreed that child drowning prevention would be a great part of our service as Peace Corps volunteers.
We discovered a program called Swim Safe Thailand…
So we traveled to Bangkok and met with the fine people at Chulalongkorn University’s School of Public Health:
Dr. Sathirakorn Pongpanich is the Dean of the School; Dr. Ratana Somrongthong is the principal researcher who guided studies about child drowning and obtained initial funding for Swim Safe Thailand.
But … how can we teach water safety with no water?
Today we stumbled onto private land as we were exploring Nongyasai, the closest town to us, about a half hour’s bike ride away. The sign over the gate read Dharma Ranch …
Huh, we thought, looks like a park. In we went. It was park-like, but with ponds dried-up, cracked, caked mud where water should be. In ten minutes we were greeted by a smiling woman on a scooter. In the first few minutes of conversation using our choppy Thai, she happened to mentioned that she is building a wai nam, a swimming pool.
It’s not just some dinky backyard pool:
The pool is being built by two sisters and their brother, a Buddhist monk who is in charge of all the engineering. They’re building it to help their elderly mother, who needs exercise, and as a philanthropic contribution to the community to help train kids about water safety.