Maldives Rowing Volunteer
 
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Dan and Cat (action shot)
I would love to use the fact I have been rushed off my feet for the reason as to why I have not posted a blog for a while, and whilst it is true I have been much busier I really have no excuse as I still seem to have time to research (actually look at utter rubbish) many things on the internet.  Anyhow not to be out done by Tash (although I will definitely let her win the longest blog post award) up in the north we too have been kicking off a new programme in a big way. Sadly though it is still not rowing as I cannot lie and say our boathouse is almost complete but there is progress I can assure you

The most important news has been the arrival and now imminent departure of Dan and Cat, two recently ex Westminster School students who have been here to help with the rowing for the past three weeks. As we have yet to begin rowing on Hulhumale they have been helping all over the island, mainly at Ghaazee school (the government school on the island), with swimming lessons, girl guides and sports too. Two families from the school have been looking after their every need and letting them both have a real experience of Maldivian life, although as Dan doesn't like fish and neglected to tell Miss Geela his host this, I am not completely sure what he has been living off!  I am hoping that they have had a good time and feel a little guilty that they have not been able to do any rowing but they have been very useful with the start of a new swimming programme and everyone on Hulhumale will be sad to see Ket and Den (as I am constantly told by the children is how I should pronounce their names as my pronunciation is wrong apparently) leave on Tuesday.

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Measuring the boathouse site
Back to our boathouse saga, well as I mentioned earlier there has been progress, a structure (the old preschool) has been dismantled and is awaiting lorries to move it to our boathouse site where it will be re-mantled and ready to welcome our boats. However as we are waiting for the workmen to finish building staircases for the shop precinct in Hulhumale (precinct is a very grand name for what is actually a row of mostly useless shops) and these staircases have been under construction since I arrived here I am still not holding my breath for an imminent completion of the boathouse but it is definite, definite progress, so my excitement is starting to build a little in the hope that we might be able to begin rowing before I leave at Christmas!

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An eagle ray, excellent photo by me!
In the meantime I have been concentrating on getting the swimming programme running with more support from various organisations and people.  Finally I feel like I am beginning to make progress and the tragic drowning incident a couple of weeks ago has brought water safety and swimming a lot higher up agendas.  There are many long term plans to get swimming lessons back on the curriculum in schools again but in the short term we are looking to build on the current programme with support from families and organisations here to offer swimming to all the children on Hulhumale.  In an ideal world it would be great to get free swimming lessons for all children through out the Maldives but right now that seems like a target which is a long way away, in the meantime I believe the best thing to build support from the ground up by offering lessons on a small scale and it does seem to be working but more news on that in the future!

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It now suddenly seems that it is not long until I return to the UK, which is a scary thought, both for the fact that sometimes I feel like I have achieved nothing so far in my time here (I then give myself a bit of a pep talk and reassure myself that I have done something) and there is still so much to do.  We have not even started rowing yet! Mostly it is scary as I am still at a loss as to what I will do on my return to the UK (other than wear my biggest coat all the time), as there has been no news from the police I am not hopeful about that so any job offers are gratefully received! There is still a lot to do but the most frustrating thing is that the time it takes to achieve real progress as I very wary of leaving with no structure in place for the project to continue. Anyhow in more exciting news for me is that my lovely crazy parents are coming out to visit me in November, when I say visit me, they are coming for a month and actually will only see me for three or four days, it is as if there is more to see here than me!!  I am now rivalling Tash for long posts so I will endeavour to write more often and keep them short and sweet, promise!

Bye for now

Rachel

 


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