Fighting A Deadly Threat – Drowning

Drowning is a silent killer, the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury deaths across the world. The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation works tirelessly to save children from death and injury from drowning. On the 21st of April 2017, Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene hosted an exclusive cocktail function in Sandton to personally speak on behalf of her Foundation and engage guests on the importance of its work. Many prestigious South African personalities attended the function and some of South Africa’s most highly-regarded athletes spoke about the work that the Foundation does.

The Foundation was created to raise public awareness about the dangers of water, teach children preventive measures, and teach them to swim. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2012 approximately 372 000 people died from drowning, making drowning a major public health problem worldwide. Children, particularly in low and middle-income countries, are at the highest risk of drowning. Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene is passionate about using her position as a platform to promote water safety and reduce this serious threat to public health.

Francois Pienaar, Ryk Neethling, Lizette Botha and Dominique Donner all spoke on the work of the Foundation across the country. Princess Charlene also gave a touching speech on how the Foundation is committed to saving lives. According to Her Serene Highness, “Here in South Africa, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death after road accidents.” She adds, “We can save so many lives, simply by teaching people essential water safety skills and how to swim and by focusing on one person, one family, one community at a time.”

Gavin Varejes, President of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation South Africa, includes, “By working with children in underprivileged areas, who are at greater risk, to teach them about water safety, the Foundation is ensuring that fewer senseless deaths from drowning occur. These children can go on to live healthy and fulfilled lives, and that is key to the future of our country.” In South Africa alone, the Foundation’s three programmes reached the following number of people in 2016: Learn to Swim – 2 507 people; Water Safety – 27 242 people and Sport & Education – 467 people.

Her Serene Highness has also been active at several South African events during her stay. She visited Gugulesizwe Primary School on Friday the 21st of April to meet with staff and children there, as a follow up to her visit in 2012 when she donated a vegetable garden to the school. The thriving garden now helps to feed the community. As part of her visit Princess Charlene, who is also a Patron of the Red Cross, worked with the Red Cross SA to give teachers and children who function as the head of their households a lesson in essential first aid and CPR to help them protect their family and friends.  Acting Mayor of Ekurhuleni, Cllr Lesiba Mpya, and the Mayoress, Mrs Sinazo Masina attended the event and generously provided lunch for the 900 school children as well as the staff and guests.

On Saturday, the inaugural Princess Charlene Ladies Day was held at Turffontein Racecourse in Johannesburg. This charity race day was created to benefit three worthwhile associations through a first-class sporting event for the public to enjoy and featured a raffle prize of an exquisite diamond pendant sponsored by Petra Diamonds. The charities supported by this event were the Red Cross, Gugulisizwe Primary School and the Highveld Horse Care Unit. There were two maiden plate races on the day and the Empress Palace Stakes, each of which carried the name of Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene. After the incredible success of the day, it is hoped that this racing event will become one of the most highly anticipated events on the Gauteng social calendar, with an increasing number of needy organisations benefiting from the initiative.

For more information on the Foundation please go to

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