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INDIAN OCEAN - Seychelles Activities

Youth Exchange between Seychelles and Maldives



It 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.

This exchange was to give students from the two countries, the possibility to:

  • Find out the views of youth in islands on issues of direct interest to them
  • Promote direct interaction between youth in different islands and different regions
  • Promote 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 themselves.

Report from the Seychelles group

On 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:

"Got 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".

Arriving 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.


"We felt at ease and at home with our new friends, thanks to the exceptional welcome we had been given". (Alize Ferrari, S4 student)

The 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.

(The fruit salad activity)

Then 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.

(Workshop scenes)

After 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':

'Saw a real eagle for the first time'. ( Lorraine)

and learnt a lot about the history of the Maldives with the antiquities in the museum.

The 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 prepared.

From Vilingilli, the delegation rested at the youth centre on Male to discuss the works and programme of that day.

The 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.

It 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.

The 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.

'A very expensive but well planned project'. (Alize)

On 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 and schools.

The 7th was dedicated to visiting the island of Thilafushi made out of garbage.

'Plant life was thriving there thanks to the extremely rich soil' says Alize

On 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.

'There the people do many works which is amazing' (Jean Marc)

In the afternoon the group visited a Tuna Factory where the processes of cleaning, filleting, skinning and packing the fishes, 'got our eyes glued'.

Friday 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.

The night fishing scheduled for that night was postponed for early morning when only the boys went.

The next day, on the way back to Male, the group visited the centre for disabled and the dumpsite on Guraidhoo Island.

In 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.

A traditional dinner prepared by participants from both countries went down the stomachs appetisingly after the show.

The 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.

Some 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.

The visit with the president even appeared on the news and can be viewed on the presidency's official website.

When 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)


To get involved, contact :


National Co-ordinators
Mr Rolph Payet and Mr Alain De Comarmond
Ministry of Environment
PO Box 677, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles
Tel: + 248 224 644
Fax: 248 322 945


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