Youth Exchange between Seychelles and Maldives
ON SIV YOUTH EXCHANGE PROJECT
was towards the end of 2003 that two islands in the Indian Ocean
decided to turn the Small Islands Voice (SIV) internet-based youth
forum into specific action on the ground. That was with the aim
of getting students from the schools in the small islands states
to, not only read about concerns, similarities and differences
in the countries through the internet, but also learn about each
other's countries through visits and develop a joint activity
which can be undertaken by youth in the different countries. This
would also strengthen Small Island States' relationships and provide
for the sharing of experiences in reinforcing island environment
and development issues. Through such an exchange, proposed by
Miss Farida Camille, SIV Youth facilitator for Praslin Secondary
School in Seychelles, it was hoped that active involvement of
the voices of young people in determining the future of their
islands is heard loud and clear and that this voice becomes a
driving force for island development.
exchange was to give students from the two countries, the possibility
- Find out
the views of youth in islands on issues of direct interest to
direct interaction between youth in different islands and different
mutual sharing of views and information
The initiative was well supported by the UNESCO and the Ahmaddiyah
School in the Maldives under the leadership of their Principal
Mr Gahaa Saeed who embraced the idea of this first exchange visit.
The Ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources
as well as that of Environment in the Maldives also gave their
full support towards the success of such an exchange as they made
it possible for students from the two countries to discuss common
environmental, social and development problems; discuss possible
solutions and how to implement them and prepare a project that
the students in the two countries can undertake and implement
from the Seychelles group
the 4th of January 2004, five students from Praslin Secondary
School (PRS) of the Seychelles, accompanied by Miss Farida Camille,
their English teacher and Curriculum coordinator, arrived in the
Maldives on that night at 9.55 p.m, after a three hour flight.
The Seychellois group received a warm welcome with flowers and
afterwards on the ' dhoni' (boat), cool coconut water to drink,
from the Maldives Small Islands Voice Youth participants, their
teachers, principal and representatives from several ministries
present. As Jean- Marc (S4 student) puts it:
a very nice welcome and I was very impressed. I felt welcomed.
The students were nice and I got some friends that day. Then we
went to the mainland and capital, Male, by boat ( dhoni) which
took around 5 minutes to reach. This was a good start in the Maldives
island for me. We stayed with the principal. He was nice".
at our temporary home, we were greeted with a wonderful meal,
which was quite similar to meals at our permanent home. That was
the first sight of similarities between the two small island states,
which we felt after discussion, could have been related to our
historical background, since our ancestors came from European,
Asian and African origins.
felt at ease and at home with our new friends, thanks to the exceptional
welcome we had been given". (Alize Ferrari, S4 student)
second day of the visit was dominated by meeting officials from
the various ministries, the Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture
and Marine Resources (MoFAMR) and the Ministry of Education (MoE),
followed by a workshop organised by the respective ministries.
The warm up session called 'Fruit salad' got everybody running
from one place to the other for survival, under the names of various
sea species: Seahorse, Tuna, Jellyfish, Starfish. This was followed
by 'The string in the box' activity, through which participants
got to know each other after having followed a string that led
to a partner with which one had to dialogue and get as much personal
information as possible, then report to the others.
fruit salad activity)
the workshop began, focussing on environmental and development
issues under the supervision of the ministries' representatives
who served as facilitators to the five groups distributed according
to the species in the 'fruit salad' activity.
the first half of the workshop, the Seychelles and Maldives delegation
left for a tour round Male, firstly visiting the Sultan Park where
students made their own 'new discoveries':
a real eagle for the first time'. ( Lorraine)
learnt a lot about the history of the Maldives with the antiquities
in the museum.
group then proceeded to visit the island of Vilingilli where the
main place of interest was the Heritage creative arts and craft
center under the kind and welcoming management of Mr Adam. After
that there was a pleasant welcome by the staff and workers at
Muhyiddin School where drinks and snacks for the group had been
Vilingilli, the delegation rested at the youth centre on Male
to discuss the works and programme of that day.
outcome of the group works in the workshop was reported on the
following day. Groups had to present a problem tree on which all
the problems identified in the two countries were laid out. It
was evident that pollution is one of the main problems in the
countries which leads to other major problems such as the green
house effect, climate changes such as global warming, sea-level
rise, destruction of endemic species, diseases, corals dying,
erosion and other natural disasters. It was discussed in the workshop
that pollution is caused largely due to developments as a result
of increasing population and peoples' way of living (lifestyle
changes). Students came up with some possible solutions that could
be used to minimise pollution.
was from the issues discussed in the workshop that the Maldivian
and Seychelles group three days later decided to target a zero
tolerance for littering at their respective schools as a joint
project for the year to sustain a good and healthy environment.
Students felt that starting from education at school, the youth
could be sensitized on how to discard litter appropriately and
even make use of certain components of litter in terms of recycling.
It was felt that littering is one of the starting point of pollution
and hence needs to be tackled early before it contributes towards
other major problems.
other half of Tuesday the 6th was devoted to a trip to Hulhumale
where a major reclamation project is being undertaken, with flats,
school, nursery, mosque and other buildings being raised. The
aim of the project is to reduce overpopulation on the mainland.
very expensive but well planned project'. (Alize)
the way to Hulhumale a garbage disposal site was visited where
garbage had been separated into plastics, metal, smelly waste
products etc. Students felt that it was a good initiative and
that such ideas such be adopted elsewhere, starting with homes
7th was dedicated to visiting the island of Thilafushi made out
life was thriving there thanks to the extremely rich soil' says
Thilafushi, the young people learnt about the Maldive Gas, Maldive
Cement, Villa gas, Gulf craft, firebreglass and fabrication and
the Meysthiri Carpentry. Visits to those firms or small industries
were very educative in terms of development issues. On Thursday
the 8th, the group left for Huraa where a youth campsite was visited
with a nearby swamp that is to be reclaimed. Onto Himmafushi Island,
where a well maintained and well organised Drug Rehabilitation
centre was the centre of attraction.
the people do many works which is amazing' (Jean Marc)
the afternoon the group visited a Tuna Factory where the processes
of cleaning, filleting, skinning and packing the fishes, 'got
our eyes glued'.
the 9th was spent on Maafushi Island where the group stayed overnight.
Entertainment was found at sea when the Maldivians and Seychellois
combated the strong currents in the sea off Vahmaafushi while
swimming and snorkelling. Upon coming from Vahmaafushi, the youngsters
played some volleyball and joined the very young inhabitants of
the rehabilitation centre where they were residing for the night,
in some indoor games.
night fishing scheduled for that night was postponed for early
morning when only the boys went.
next day, on the way back to Male, the group visited the centre
for disabled and the dumpsite on Guraidhoo Island.
the afternoon of that Saturday, the excitement of the cultural
show scheduled for that night was apparent. Such a show was to
enhance knowledge on the countries' traditions and culture. The
night saw talents of the two countries as various items were presented.
traditional dinner prepared by participants from both countries
went down the stomachs appetisingly after the show.
day before the group left, a visit to Ahmaddiyah School was made
on the first day of the term and Seychelles SIV Youth participated
in the assembly whereby Miss Farida explained the ' mission' of
the exchange group and the project that was to be carried out
to stop littering at school level. An honoured invitation to meet
the President of the Maldives, Mr Abdul Gayoom, was very much
welcomed by the Seychelles participants and at 10.30 a.m the group
was in the President's office. After a wealthy dialogue with the
President, the Seychelles group proceeded to meet the Minister
for Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources. In both visits,
it was felt that the two countries have a lot in common and that
there already existed a bond between the two countries' presidents
and officers of the above mentioned ministries.
doubts with regards to environmental effects of major projects
being carried out in the Maldives were cleared by the Minister
for Environment and his adviser who explained that a project like
that of the Garbage Island of Thilafushi had a more positive side
effect on marine life than anticipated as corals around it were
growing well and the marine life was as healthy and attractive
as others in the country. A book given by the President to the
Seychelles group as a present, proved the strong will of the President
to combat threats to the small island states as results of bigger
and more developed countries' neglect and carelessness when making
developments. It was amazing to find out from the President himself
that such an idea of having small island states join together
had been proposed before during discussions on the Kyoto Convention.
visit with the president even appeared on the news and can be
viewed on the presidency's official website.
it was time to say goodbye everyone was very sad. In all, the
journey had been a very good experience. We had visited some interesting
places and learnt a lot (Anna-Rita)