Maldives Rowing Volunteer
 
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The lovely weather that greeted Guin and Rebecca
A couple of fabulous bits of news to report to hopefully alleviate a little of the sadness of Tash's news (see below).  Yesterday we welcomed the lovely Guin Batten and Rebecca Romero to the Maldives.  I swam through the flooded streets of Male to meet them at the airport, I tried to be as sunny as I could to make up for the terrible weather that greeted them.  After a quick catch up over coffee I saw them onto a boat to take them off to a resort, much more enjoyable in the rain than Male, and I headed back over to the city to twiddle my thumbs in the rain for a bit.  Unfortunately when it rains in the Maldives, particularly in Male, there is not a lot to do, the road outside my flat floods at the first sign of rain so going outside involves getting wet up to my knees in questionable water, staying inside is a much better choice!

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Whooo diddly woooo
Today the weather was much better, and I had heard rumours that rapid progress was being made on the boathouse.  Imagine my delight when I walked along the road to see this.  I feel a little sorry for Tom, who I was with, I am not sure he fully understood my over the top babbling, but about six months worth of quietly waiting resulted in much high speed chatter!  As you can see from the photos (ignore the black clouds) the boathouse is starting to look like an actual building, it is huge and has at least five foot of roof now.  

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These are my new best friends and I intend to keep them happy and they might even work over Eid to keep cracking on with the building (I doubt it but I will keep dreaming).  As I am off to another island for a few days I am very hopeful that everything will be finished when I return, although with rain and about 12 days worth of public holidays coming up I do not have my fingers crossed, but nothing can take away from my happiness at seeing this today! You may not share my joy completely but have a little smile for me please!!!

More news on my trip to Naifaru on my return at the end of the week!

Rachel

 

Matte

10/26/2011

7 Comments

 
On Sunday night one of our fellow assistant coaches, Matte, died. He and Roba were riding home after dropping me off at my room in Meedhoo when a digger turned without looking in front of them and caught Matte in the chest killing him outright. The remainder of Sunday night was truly terrible, going to the hospital, taking Matte back to Hithadhoo on the police launch and experiencing all the grief, horror and shock felt by all his family and friends when they met us at Hithadhoo hospital. He was buried on Monday afternoon at 1600. Roba, Sarey, Ira and myself returned to Hulhudhoo later that night to continue the coaching the following day - an incredibly sombre group.

We will all be wearing black bands in Matte's memory for the upcoming Inter school Competition on November 4 and are naming one of the boats after him. Everyone is still struggling to believe that he is actually gone. What his family must be feeling at the moment is beyond comprehension - he was only 21 and this trip was the first time he had been anywhere without his family. I hope like me your thoughts and prayers will be with them all.

x Tash

 
 
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Bashi Bola, a traditional Maldivian women's game
One thing I can freely admit to being a little worried about before arrival was what it would be like to teach sports to children in a culture so very different to my own.   Having been given the brief of using rowing to engage and motivate the children and women of the island, I felt slightly overwhelmed, prior to arrival my experience of teaching sport had been for well educated University students, toddlers and young children in upmarket North Yorkshire and Hampshire, only ever with the aim of teaching a skill, never trying to inspire.  However when I thought back about what I have got out of sport in my life and what inspired me – the overwhelming factor was always me!  Not that I am the most inspirational person I know, but actually what made me feel amazing was my own achievements.  Every time I achieved something that always inspired me to try more, achieve more and believe in myself more, hopefully allowing the things I learnt about myself to help me in all areas of my life (my family and friends may well disagree!).  In short I have realised that I should not be worried about trying to inspire people, that either happens or it doesn’t, you have no control over other people’s minds (unless you are Derren Brown), what I can control is trying to  help those I am teaching to achieve targets and get those feelings of inspiration from themselves. 

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As for targeting women and girls, I spoke to the children in my biology classes at the local school about sport and exercise and I asked them to keep an exercise diary for two weeks, it proved to be very easy for the girls as not ONE could remember doing any exercise over the two weeks, that included any walk over 20 minutes – out of 30 girls aged 14 and 15.  I am hopeful it wasn't their memories that were the problem but it highlighted to me a desperate need to encourage girls into sport and activity.  However I am not here to change the world, the whole of the Maldives or indeed the whole island and I have very little experience or expertise on the subject but there are some people that do!  

If you are interested in women’s sport, international and national women’s sports development then I would recommend looking at sportanddev.org in general and these pages in particular, The Role of Sport in Addressing Gender Issues and Women, Coaching and Development.

Also really interesting are the International Working Group on Women and Sportsportscoachuk.org's  information on women and girls as well as all their other resources and finally The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation.  I have found all of these really useful and helpful reading (especially as I am currently without TV, unable to watch anything online and without books!).

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You can blame this overly thoughtful blog on the weather, we have been having a serious attack of rain stopping play over the past few days, and although I am mostly happy to plough on there is only so long you can stand in the sea in pouring rain and I have the fat reserves to keep warm, many of the children don't and it can get cold in the Maldives (in a storm when you are wet) I promise you.

More lightweight frothy blogs soon!


Rachel

 
 
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Sunset view from my room over Male
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Men at work (not the band)
Time is rapidly running away with me, having just counted and there is only 8 weeks until my scheduled flight home, very scary how quickly (and sometimes slowly) the last seven months have gone.  Before I get to retrospective, introspective and any other spective you can think of, my boat house is still progressing at a quite frankly startling rate now.  As previously explained the poles were put in the ground but we had a problem with no power to weld the roof onto the poles, but as you can see from the picture here electricity cables are being laid as I write, well probably not now as it is dark, and will reach the site imminently.  If you have followed the intensely exciting progress of my (it is now officially mine, well in my mind anyhow) you might have some idea of how huge this might be in my world.  If I had ever had any idea how much work would need to be done to get rowing started here I think I might have run for the hills long ago!  But now every step feels like a great achievement and bolsters my enthusiasm for life in general and rowing here in particular.  I am now constantly humming the hymn "One more step along the world I go" annoyingly I cannot remember many of the words but the first line is pretty apt for life here.

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Shaufa and Unesha not listening to me!
I have a lot of very exciting things coming up, not least the arrival of the fantastic Mr and Mrs Loveridge, in November for their pre-Christmas month long sojourn in south Asia.  I am looking forward to showing them exactly what it is their wayward daughter has been up to for the past few months.  Also on looming rapidly on the horizon are another couple of visitors, who are equally (perhaps more but don't tell my parents) exciting.  At the end of this month Guin Batten (the original Maldives rowing crusader) and companion (more details in the next couple of days) will be arriving for a flying visit to me and my swimming troops in the North and then off down to Addu to see the results of Tash's work over the past few weeks culminating in an intern island rowing regatta. Good times all round!

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With exams for all the children going on at the moment, Eid holiday and then the big school holidays coming up, all my superstar swimmers are very busy and I thought I would heap on the pressure with swimming tests next week before we wind up the swimming programme for the foreseeable future, sad times.  Following a break over Eid, Republic Day, Victory Day and a few other public holidays (there seems to be quite a few more public holidays here than in the UK) I am hoping to run intensive learn to swim courses for those who are on the much sought after waiting list for swimming lessons.  Fingers crossed I will be ably assisted by another volunteer with these but as with everything, confirmation is still to come.  My hope is that everyone who wanted swimming lessons gets at least 12 lessons before I leave, some have already had significantly more and are up in arms that I am leaving, makes me feel very loved!  Who could resist carrying on teaching my cheeky Saturday ladies who star in the photos and video below (breaststroke leg kick on the beach - you cannot beat sand to teach the leg kick!)?

In yet more exciting news I am off to another island soon for a few days to have a bit of a recce for another potential site for a rowing club, which has me bouncing off the walls with anticipation so I will fill in all the details as soon as I can and with pictures of baby turtles!

 
 
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Just a short update as currently, although we have poles in place, see images below, there is a bit of a problem with getting power to the site to weld the roof back on to the poles, so we have slightly impeded progress but we are using a gentle push of inter island rivalry to keep the momentum up so we can catch up with Tash's rowers in Addu I am assured that this is not a long term problem and am waiting with baited breath as I have given up being patient now - it is official!  In the meantime I have discovered (very belatedly) pix-o-matic and have been having much fun with it, love this photo of me in the water, despite the sneaky view of my extremely white tummy!  Other examples of my assisted artwork below, I love, love, love this site.

 
 
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Nope not Stephanie Powers, Marie Curie, Chopin or Copernicus but these lovely specimens in the photos here.  You can see by the big grin on my face how happy they make me because these are the first steps in the building of our boathouse.  It is big, huge news as it now feels like it is really happening and I have photographic proof.  

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Here are the fabled poles from another angle, with the building slowly moving forward excitement about the boats and rowing is growing rapidly just in time for the improvement in the sea conditions as although the site is on the inside of the atoll the sea can still be very unforgiving around here.  I am hoping to train some tough rowers here, and I cannot wait to get going after six months we cannot start rowing a moment too soon.

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Here are the poles again, showing the size of the building, 10m by 10m is a big building for our needs so I am currently looking into getting some other water sports equipment to fill the shed with.  Right last photo of the poles which are currently the light of my life!

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After my over excitement about the poles at the boathouse site, today was another great day.  I must thank the people behind World Teacher's Day, due to the celebrations in the schools all swimming lessons were cancelled allowing me to have a bonus day off this week (apart from the 6am lesson but life cannot be perfect), which I spent diving.  As my day off is normally Friday, which is very tricky to arrange diving on, I was more than a bit happy to get out today and appreciate the jaw dropping underwater scenery and wildlife here, including these spinner dolphins seen from the boat.  We also managed to see a few white tip sharks, green turtles and of course the mind blowing manta rays, I am hoping to get hold of some of the brilliant photos taken during the dive today just to make you even more jealous.  Every now and then I do have to pinch myself to make sure I am really here and it is all real, I can safely say I am one lucky girl!  

More updates on the boathouse progress as and when they happen.