Women saving lives at sea rescue station

Some of the women who are making a difference at the NSRI station in Strandfontein.
Some of the women who are making a difference at the NSRI station in Strandfontein.
Image: NSRI.

A sea rescue base in Cape Town is home to 11 brave women who are finding opportunities for personal growth, while also assisting with important operations such as responding to accidents in the ocean. 

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has stations on the coast around the country. At these stations, hundreds of people volunteer to assist the organisation with its work. 

Established in 1971, Station 16 of the NSRI in Strandfontein has the most female members of any station in the country. The women here are between the ages of 17 and 51. They perform a wide variety of roles and duties, from checklists, radio communications, maintenance of vessels and, of course, heading out to sea to save people in distress.

Ilhaam Adams (51) is the oldest female member at the station. She came across the NSRI during an open day back in 2016, and decided to join up. 

“The work that the NSRI was doing looked very interesting. Even though I was never very fond of the sea, I decided to join. It has been a fantastic journey since then.”

All the volunteers complete intensive NSRI basic training before becoming permanent members. Although they are not paid, they get the opportunity to take part in a number of additional courses which help with their personal growth and skills development. 

Adams, for example, has done a number of courses, ranging from fire-fighting, to 4x4 driving, radio communications, crew development and others.

“I never thought I would be accomplishing all these things, especially at my age! But now I am the shore controller at the station, which means that I help the boats with launches and navigation,” says Adams, who highly recommends that young people volunteer with the NSRI. 

The youngest member of the team is Michaela Leo (17), who is still a matric pupil. 

“The NSRI not only gives you the opportunity to make a difference and give back to society, but also opens various doors in life and helps you gain experience in various things,” she says.

*For more information about volunteering with the NSRI, call 021 434 4011.

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.

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