Jõulusoovide puu

The Christmas wish tree is made up of the dreams and wishes of children in shelters and substitute homes, sent to Santa Clause. To make sure that these do not just remain dreams, pick a gift from the Christmas tree and make a donation to the best of your ability.


Children at water safety training: “No drowning at the beach, or the Coast Guard will come”

In order to decrease the number of drowning deaths, this summer we organised a donation campaign titled “Give children from substitute homes and shelters the gift of a fun summer!”. The money that we collected will be used to train the children and personnel at substitute homes and shelters so they would know how to avoid dangers and how to provide help when needed.

The conclusion of the project took place at the Rebasemäe picnic site of Tallinn Zoo where children from orphanages and the adults who accompanied them were introduced to water safety principles, rescue equipment, and first aid techniques for helping drowning victims. The children also had a good time with the lifeguard dogs. More than 300 children from Haapsalu, Viljandi County, Ida-Viru County, Tartu County as well as Central Estonia, Tallinn, and Harju County participated in the event.

This day in midsummer July, which is also the highpoint of the swimming season, was the perfect time to go over people’s knowledge of water safety and to talk about what all parents should keep in mind when thy are near water with children. The workshops were preceded by a short lecture followed by practical assignments that were all solved playfully and in a language that children could easily understand.

Lifeguards from G4S Coast Guard showed the children rescue techniques and reminded them of the rules for a safe holiday at the beach. A timed competition where participants had to provide aid to an injured person was organised in order to help them memorise all they had learned. From children, the lifeguards heard many colourful opinions of what can and what should under no circumstances be done at the beach: “No drowning at the beach, or the Coast Guard will come. You get yelled at...” or “I know! I know! You must not pee in the water, but it once happened to me...”.

Members of the Volunteer Reserve Rescue Team explained the principles for safe boating. The rescuers had brought along a kayak and an inflatable boat and the equipment needed for safe boating – a waterproof bag, scoops, oars, etc. All together they also practised how to use lifebelts and the throw line, and the children could try on life jackets and discuss why they are required. Of course, sitting in the kayak attracted children the most – for many of them it was the first time. 6-year-old Elari was so fascinated by the use of the lifebelt and the throw line that he went on to practise their use on his own. And he was overjoyed when he successfully managed to get the lifebelt precisely over the ball, like he had practised earlier.

The lifeguard dogs also caused a lot of excitement and the children quickly took to them because children at substitute homes very often miss the contact with pets. Some of the children only sat with the dogs and petted and brushed them and thought about how they also want such a big and hairy friend when they grow up. Inspired by big dogs and life jackets, several children started dreaming of becoming lifeguards.

Tallinn ambulance medics gave first aid advice and explained what to do when a friend has lost consciousness at the beach, how to take pulse, how to listen for breathing, and how to bandage wounds. The children liked this workshop very much because they could use a training dummy for practising CPR, bandaging wounds, turning a injured person around, etc.

Later in the bus the children practised bandaging wounds on each other – all free arms and legs were bandaged using the bandages that they had been given. Even mosquito bites were bandaged and the children said: “Self-made, well made and this is a very important skill for the rest of the life!”. The younger children treated the sample bandages that the medics gave them like relics. When on the following day Dmitri’s arm was bandaged up to the elbow and the teacher asked what happened, the boy chuckled and gave the simple and logical explanation: “Nothing, we just tried out what we learned yesterday at the zoo because we have to know how to help our friends correctly!”.

Of course, the children could also walk around the zoo and see the animals. The smaller ones stood in front of each cage for a long time. 5-year-old Julia, who is generally very silent or speaks quietly and with few words, was speaking with excitement about all the animals she saw.

The children love animals very much and many did not want to get back home because they wanted to see all the animals again and again. The children themselves were also touring around with the teachers, telling interesting stories about the animals and feeling proud to guide the adults.

Before heading back home, the children ate delicious pancakes that the cooks prepared on large wok pans – it was a big change from what the teachers back home usually give them. Sergei asked his teacher: “How much did you have to pay for all this food, we ate so much?” To which the teacher said: “It was a treat.” “Can I then eat more!?” the boy asked with joy, although he realised that his belly was already full. “But it is so delicious! Especially those pizza-flavoured buns and pancakes,” he said.

On the way home, several children asked when would be the next time when they get to throw the lifebelt and throw line.

A big thank you to all the supporters, organisers, and volunteers who helped to make the water safety day happen.

Triin Lumi

TV news regarding the water safety day can be watched here:

Participate Thank you, if you have already supported our charity programme or if you are going to do it in the future! Sign a standing payment order contract in SEB Internet Bank for 3 euros a month or support with a single donation.