Netherlands Ambassador to Sudan Dr. Karin Boven has crossed the deep, and often hazardous, River Nile waters in a move meant to raise public awareness about the techniques of safe swimming.
The event was organized by the Netherlands Embassy within the third Nile Crossing Festival which was held at the premises of the Sudanese Sea Scouts under the theme "Safe Nile and Safe Swimming for All."
The occasion was an endeavor to teach people how to swim safely in the Blue Nile that used to claim innocent lives due to ignorance about how to swim in the proper way.
The event was held amidst wide fanfare and was attended by Chairman of the Higher Council For Youth and Sports in Khartoum State al-Yasa'a Siddig, alongside representatives of the Ministry of Interior, the Netherlands Embassy, foreign embassies and foreign communities in Khartoum.
Ms. Boven crossed the Blue Nile from bank-to-bank in the company of 100 swimmers from 15 different countries including Sudan, Italy, Eritrea, Norway, Kenya, India, Canada and France amidst greetings of citizens who attended the occasion.
Boven said she had taken the step in fulfillment of a promise she earlier made to cross the Blue Nile if the number of her Embassy's Facebook fans reaches 10,000. At the time the Embassy's Third Secretary had also promised to shave out all his hair if the website followers reach three thousands!
Back in the Netherlands the Foreign Ministry's staff were reportedly highly responsive towards the initiative and continued to sponsor it during the last three years.
Landing at the other river bank, Boven waved the victory sign, telling journalists that: Iam pleased to have fulfilled my promise, and even more, to have struck a partnership of solidarity for important issues."
She expressed her "deep satisfaction" that the number of participants has now reached 100 swimmers from both sexes from different age groups and nationalities." Our objective is to prevent drowning that has now become more threatening than malaria," she said.
People, in particular those living alongside the river, should first learn how to swim, she advised.
In a press release, the Netherlands Embassy has extended its thanks and appreciation to all those who contributed to the success of the festival.
It is our hope that all of us join hands to combat drowning and for safe swimming for all, it said.
Swimming Is Beneficial:
Journalist Rana Mua'awya, who swam with the group, has said this was the third time she would cross the Blue Nile within this program."Swimming across the Blue Nile is a superb experience, and what is more superb is the participation of 15 female swimmers from different nationalities other than the female Dutch participants", said Rana.
"I felt very high while in the water and it is my hope that the number of participants would grow more and that we, who took part in the race, become a nucleus for encouraging other females to learn how to swim", she said.
"Swimming is a nice sport, quite beneficial for women," she said.
Swimming For All:
Seventy years old swimming coach Saleem Suleiman Fadl said it was he who taught Sudanese - international swimming champion Sultan Keejab how to swim. He said he had crossed the Nile at age 60 to show all generations that "swimming knows no age."
"Everybody should swim, young or old," he said.
He said the Blue Nile swimming festival is an excellent initiative on the part of the Netherlands and the Sea Scouts.
Happy To Have Taken Part:
Forio (10 years), Italy, said his crossing the Blue Nile was " good and nice, in particular because it is my first experience with such a festival."
He said he would prepare himself for the fourth festival from now.
Hamad (8 years), Sudan, has said he was happy to have taken part in the event." I have acquired some skills from the swimming course conducted by a Dutch coach and, as a result, I found no difficulty to cross to the River's other bank," he said.
The fourth festival will be organized in 2018.