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RNLI celebrates first responder from Bangladesh who has trained 19000 lifesavers

Lifeboats News Release

On International Women’s Day, the RNLI is celebrating the work of Samshun Nahar who has not only trained 19,000 people in lifesaving CPR techniques but has also directly saved two lives herself.

Image of Samshun Nahar

RNLI/Syed Naem

Image of Samshun Nahar

Nahar joined the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB) – in 2010. Their drowning prevention work in rural Bangladesh has been supported by the RNLI since 2015.

Over a decade later, Nahar has used her knowledge to train thousands of people across Bangladesh resulting in countless lives saved – including one mother who saved her own infant son’s life.

Tragically, on average 40 children drown in Bangladesh every day - surrounded by 700 rivers and around 5,000 miles of inland waterways, young children are only steps away from danger - which is why the RNLI is supporting the lifesaving work of CIPRB with communities across the country to spread vital water safety messaging and training to help reduce the risk for current and future generations.

Nahar, who is a first responder trainer, said: ‘I like this training because this is a type of work that you may be able to save anyone’s life. This training benefits the trainees, their families and their surrounded people in the society.

‘What is needed is breathing through the mouth and pressing chest, which we call CPR. If we perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation it’s possible to save someone’s life and specifically drowning prevention is possible.

‘This training when I first started in 2010, since then until now nearly 19,000 people has been already trained.’

As well as local people trained through CIPRB - Nahar has taught lifesaving techniques to medical professionals including doctors and nurses.

The work supported by the RNLI in Bangladesh also includes supporting village creches that operate during the peak drowning times of day- when parents are often concentrating on their work and chores that must be carried out, leaving young children vulnerable to drowning in local ponds and waterways.

The creches (known locally as Anchals) help keep children aged 1-5 years safe from drowning. The Anchal Maa’s (creche supervisors) who run the creches are trained in lifesaving drowning prevention techniques, as well as how to support children’s learning and development through games, songs and play.

With the support of the UK government's Aid Match scheme and generous supporters who donated through the Creches for Bangladesh appeal, the RNLI helped CIPRB to establish 300 Anchals to keep over 5,000 children safe from drowning and help prepare them for school.

Nahar speaks of her pride’ in the training she provides which helps not only one person but their family, friends and community also.

Nahar added: ‘I have provided training to people in entire Bangladesh, after receiving the training they benefited their family as well as surrounded community. I feel proud about this fact. When I hear that someone in Anchal Maa took training from me and was able to save someone’s life, I get emotional. I can feel I contributed something good for the society.’

Nahar has also saved two lives herself by performing CPR on two occasions – on a heart attack victim and a young girl who lost consciousness.

One of those trained by Nahar includes Anchal Maa Jhorna Begum – who was able to save her own young son’s life.

On the day of the incident Jhorna ’s son Robiul would usually have gone to the Madrasa (a religious study institution) but it was closed so he played at home with his brother Yasin.

Robiul struggled to look after his younger brother and Jhorna soon realised Yasin was missing. After searching with her husband and mother-in-law Yasin’s shoe was spotted in the water and Jhorna’s husband immediately jumped in and pulled the unconscious child onto land.

Quickly Jhorna recalled her vital training, she added: ‘I told them, it’s my child and I got training from the CIPRB. I clean the child’s face and mouth with the paper. Check with my ear but there was no sign of breathing. I lay him and breath through the mouth. After three times/attempts of breathing through the mouth, the child start showed a small move in the body. When I kept doing the same, the child regained conscious.

‘I save my child. Only reason I could save my child as I was working for CIPRB. I say thank you to everyone here that I could save my child.’

Kate Eardley, Head of International Advocacy at the RNLI, said: ‘Drowning claims an estimated 236,000 lives every year globally, and as the leading charity that saves lives at sea, we are proud to use our expertise to help others save lives across the world.

‘All women – and particularly those with inspiring stories like Nahar and Jhorna - play such an important role to reduce the risk of drowning for children in Bangladesh. Without Jhorna’s CPR training and quick action to save her own son he might have been another of the many lives lost to drowning every day.’


Notes to editor:

Bangladesh has a drowning rate five times higher than other low- and middle-income countries. Surrounded by 700 rivers and around 5,000 miles of inland waterways, young children are only steps away from danger. Access to a free creche place can reduce a child’s risk of drowning by an incredible 82%, as well as providing essential early childhood development. The RNLI also supports the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB) to provide survival swimming lessons for children aged 6-10 years.

The Creches for Bangladesh project was funded through a public appeal in 2018 and match funding provided by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office through their UK Aid Match fund. This project has ensured that the RNLI and CIRPB could provide over 5,000 creche places for some of Bangladesh’s most vulnerable children between 2019 and 2022.

For more information and high res pictures please contact [email protected]

Image of Jhorna Begum

RNLI/Syed Naem

Image of Jhorna Begum
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UK Aid

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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