Refugees find more than a swim team at Fry's Spring

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Summers at the pool are not the only thing Estha Nandama had to adjust to.

"It's really different from there," 11-year-old Estha said, "Like almost everything, like the houses, trees."

That is because three years ago Estha and her family moved to the United States from a refugee camp in Burundi, just outside of a war-torn Congo. After ending up in Charlottesville, her family turned to the pool at Fry's Spring.

"In Africa, we don't have like coaches to teach us how to swim," Estha said, "We have to go by ourself and try to teach us how to swim, so I did not know any kind of strokes."

One of her coaches is Hussein Osman, who took a similar path to Fry's Spring, leaving a refugee camp in Kenya after escaping war in Somalia.

"If we were still in Somalia, I wouldn't probably be here right now like standing in front of you guys," Osman said, who moved to Charlottesville in 2004.

Without knowing how to swim, a pool would seem like the last place Osman would find refuge in a new community.

"We didn't really have nothing else to do because we didn't really know anybody around Charlottesville and everybody here at Fry's Spring kind of made it like home," Hussein said.

Fry's Spring has become a summertime home to more than a dozen refugees and their kids. Many of the kids learn how to swim through Ben Hair lessons before joining the swim team.

"I kind of see how much that it benefits them and it benefited me from swimming," Osman said. "Like I'm not scared of jumping in the water anymore like I'm not scared to swim."

And just by being there, Hussein benefits kids like Estha.

"It's really helpful and fun to know somebody else from the same country as you are," Estha said, "I got kind of happy when I found out."

A further reach to provide something more than just a swim team.

"They trust me with their kids and I trust them with my life and it's great," Osman said, "It kind of feels like it's not even a team to me, it's just family."



 
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