29 December 2018: Another youth from Nepal has been killed in Australian waters, most likely due to sheer lack of adequate swimming skills.
A close family friend of Nischal Ghimire, whose body was found by South Australia Police Friday evening, told southasia.com.au that Mr Ghimire did have some “general swimming” skills but not enough to be able to tackle rough ocean waters of Australia.
Sujan Adhikari, who is a close friend to Nischal Ghimire’s elder brother from Kathmandu, has been left heart-broken by the tragedy. He often saw Mr Ghimire, he said, and helped him financially throughout his nursing course by lending him money as and when requested by his brother in Kathmandu.
“He was a simple, very humble, hard-working, who always wear smile on his face. Respectful to others (sic)”, Mr Adhikari said.
As South Australia Police mounted a search operation by air, sea and ground, the worst was being feared because authorities knew the 22-year-old did not know how to swim. The desperate search ended when police found the Nepali youth’s body at the West Beach boat ramp – some four kilometres from Glenelg beach from where he was reported missing 17 hours earlier.
Mr Ghimire had picked up a 10-year-old boy with disability from an Edwardstown address at around 4 pm on 27 December. He was reported missing in the early hours of Friday after he failed to return the child to his family.
Mr Ghimire’s brother Ghanashyam Ghimire, who runs an educational consultancy in Kathmandu, is arriving in Australia on Sunday.
“I got calls from local politicians, Consular General of Nepal as well as members of our community including NRNA throughout the day,” Mr Adhikari said during a telephone conversation. He said people are asking if some sort of beach safety awareness programme targeting Nepali students in South Australia needs to be launched.
Mr Adhikari said finishing his Enrolled Nurse course was Nischal Ghimire’s biggest dream and which “he has completed”. He had recently invited his parents to Australia and they returned to Nepal only a month ago, Mr Adhikari added.
Nepal’s landlocked condition and a lack of swimming culture have been blamed for over a dozen drowning deaths of international students from the mountain nation. Most of these victims, tragically, were in the prime of their youth, mere twenty-somethings.
“Lack of swimming experience, and underestimation of hazards, along with suddenly changing ocean conditions have been blamed by the experts for such drownings,” Melbourne-based psychiatrist Dr Anupam Pokharel said in an article in December 2016. His writing was prompted by the deaths of two Nepalis that Christmas season.
“The real tragedy is, these deaths would most probably have been avoidable with little precaution,” the former president of the Nepalese Association of Victoria commented in the article.
Some believe just knowing how to swim is not enough as there is a vast difference between the rivers in Nepal and the powerful ocean waters of Australia. Hence, they argue, Nepali students in Australia should be targeted with some sort of water safety training programmes.