BAZAAR.com can exclusively confirm the Duke and Duchess of Sussex donated in the name of their son to help realize an ambitious project: Building a swimming pool in Guinjata Bay, Mozambique, to teach locals to swim. The resort town is home to one of the most picturesque coastlines in the world, but the area has seen an average of 12 drownings a year that could easily be avoided if local children—many of whom grow up to be fishermen—were taught how to swim and be safe in open waters. At present, 90 percent of the local population is unable to swim.
Adam Knight, a swim coach and partner with marine conservation non-profit Love the Oceans, had been running a JustGiving.com fundraiser for almost a month and was still £4,350 ($5,440) away from their target of £5,000 ($6,250). BAZAAR understands that Duchess Meghan came across the page after browsing their most recent Instagram posts and wanted to help them reach their goal.
Knight tells BAZAAR.com that staff were “blown away” by the donation when it appeared in mid-August, but were unsure of who the mystery donor—simply named “Archie HMW”—was. Some wondered whether it was from the Sussexes after the couple pledged support for the charity on their Instagram account in August. “I said to my colleague, ‘That has to be Harry and Meghan,'” Knight says. “We made some calls and were able to verify that it was from them, which is just incredible. Without that donation and support this would not be happening.”
Knight began working with Love The Oceans in the summer of 2018, and gave swim lessons to a small group of local children during that visit. “It was a little nerve-wracking going out [in the water] with just one other person, but I thought, “We’ve got a whole community of children that don’t know how to swim,” says the trainer of 12 years. “There’s a scuba diving resort with a swimming pool—let’s do something with this, let’s change things.”
During his summer 2019 visit, Knight and Love The Oceans brought together a small team to coach 200 young children how to swim, help 10 teenagers become assistant tutors, and train one new teacher: Mozambique’s first citizen with a Safety Training Award Level 2 qualification. “For our second summer we were able to expand and focus on open water swimming, teaching rescue work, and CPR,” says Knight. “Every Saturday since we left, the group have continued with lessons.”
Thanks to Archie’s donation, next August will see the charity’s efforts go further with the opening of the successfully-funded swimming pool. The venue will provide a safe space to train, and means that local children won’t need to pile on the back of a truck for a 45-minute off-road drive to use a local diving resort’s pool, which is often not available anyway. “Having our own pool means we’ll be able to double the amount of swimming lessons and also help create paying jobs for the teachers we’ve trained,” explains Knight. “Swimming isn’t just a skill that ensures the safety of children and adults in the surrounding areas. It also provides employment opportunities in an area that thrives on marine eco-tourism and scuba diving trips, but has so many living below the poverty line.”
He adds, “Now that we’re able to go ahead with this, we will all be thinking of Archie when we open the pool next August. What started out as a passion project is now transforming a community and beyond.” Knight also hopes to extend the program to the rest of the country. “Initially this was a small project to help one specific village and community, but now we’re able to start thinking about the whole of Mozambique,” he says. “People there encounter water every day—instead of it being something to fear, we want to turn it into something that’s enjoyed and provides for them in even more ways.”
Love the Oceans has been working in Guinjata Bay since 2014 and relies on volunteers to protect and study the diverse marine life in the area, including numerous species of sharks, rays, and humpback whales. As a thank you for their recognition on the @SussexRoyal Instagram account in August, the organization named one of their juvenile whale sharks after Harry and Meghan’s son.
Since the donation, Love The Oceans executive director Andrea Biden and Meghan have continued working together, with the duchess even connecting the organization with the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation. The Monaco royal’s charity runs a successful program teaching children how to swim in communities across South Africa.
“What the Sussexes do is just incredible and I honestly can’t thank them enough,” says Knight, who is currently recruiting a team of instructors to join next August’s trip. “Bringing the next phase of this project to life for us means that we’re one step closer to making this program a sustainable community-led initiative, which was always the aim. As the saying goes, ‘Don’t give a man a fish, give him a fishing rod.'”