In 2011, Project Dovetail invited Uswim to Mauritius in Africa to teach at the SOS orphanage, Beau Bassin. The intention was to support the program by teaching some of the children to swim and learn about the work that the SOS organisation does around the world. However arriving with 98 children all eager to go learn, a realization quickly set in I was ill-prepared to deal with the logistics.
It was suggested by Lisa (the Village Coordinator and heroic lady) that one of the house mothers could learn how to teach so lessons could continue after the trip. What seemed like such a simple and obvious suggestion would have a profound affect on me and more importantly Uswim. One of the House Mothers ‘Josset’ was interested in learning so that night I came up with a quick plan to start simplifying everything so she could understand how to teach swimming as quickly as possible.
The next 8 days was one of the most beautiful transformations I have ever seen, as a nervous non-swimmer (Josset would not have survived deep water) who could not speak English (we translated through Lisa) observed, practiced, noted, failed, succeeded, implemented and finally took ownership of the swimming lessons.
In 2012 I returned and was delighted to see Josset and other adults still sticking to the simple program. The effectiveness of Uswim today owes much to the lessons Josset taught us about program design.