Marcus Oshry, Sea Rescue Coxswain and Port Elizabeth WaterWise educator, has just taught a group of children about water safety. This is what our educators do you might say … but this class was different.
This is Marcus’s story:
“I did my final talk of the year and it was a humbling experience… The Nkosinathi Foundation is a foundation for blind and partially sighted people. Normally we think of old people who have bad or no sight. Today I spoke to children. Children who were either totally blind or partially blind. These children inspired me. When I arrived, they started to sing to me. They sang, “We wish you a Merry Christmas”. It brought a tear to my eye as how could these children, children with almost no sight, enjoy Christmas without being able to see the lights, see their presents, let alone “see” a rip current…
They were so enthusiastic when I spoke to them. They asked many questions and then asked me a really mind numbing question. “How do WE see a rip current. We can’t see” It caught me by surprise and it was something I really had to think long and hard about. Blind people use their other senses to see. I had to tell them that if they go to the beach, they should make sure that they have someone that they trust with them and explain to them how to identify the rip current and that person is to guide them to a safer place. That person shouldn’t let go of them if they enter the water at any stage. They really need to be extra careful and extra vigilant when it comes to the sea.
The one boy at the end, Bonga, stood up and took his dark glasses off and said, “Before today I was very scared of the sea because I couldn’t see the waves. I could only hear this big noise coming towards me so I never used to go in the water. Now that you have explained to me how the waves work and how the rip currents work, I feel much safer and will go and put my feet in the water.”