Maldives Rowing Volunteer
Both Tash and I have been pretty busy this past week gearing things up for a hopefully action packed September.  I cannot speak too much for Tash, but after a flying visit to Male last night I can reliably pass on from Tash that she has a squadron of volunteers to train up in the art of rowing and potentially hundreds of children keen to learn, unfortunately with only 8 seats available in rowing boats at any time demand is far outstripping supply. Even with paltry grasp of business I understand that is a far more preferable situation than the reverse - if only she was charging it would be a sure fire Dragon's Den hit.  With everything going from strength to strength for Tash it was time for me to pull my finger out, but following Ramadan there was then Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations which are understandably a big cause for celebration (if I had been fasting for a month I would want to party like it was 1999), and involved extended public holidays which drifted on for the week following the end of ramadan.  Despite many people fasting again now for another week things are now back to relative normality, and I am exceptionally happy not to be living off pot noodles and jam sandwiches!

Back to the reason I am here - rowing, I am proud and thankful to report that progress has begun on our boathouse, in fact I am dancing a little jig of happiness right now.  I am refusing to get too excited as I am confident there will be more set backs but it is definite progress - a corrugated iron structure is being moved to the site and with a little landscaping we should have a boat house and access to the water in the foreseeable future.  When that does happen I will not be dancing a jig but having a huge 90's style rave in celebration, with whistles and air horns. On the swimming front lessons are set to begin next week after meetings and presentations to both schools on the island we have already 45 students signed up and that is only from the smaller Lale International School, I might be a little over booked.  Following a meeting about swimming with the larger government Ghazee school I walked out somehow having become a supply biology teacher for the next three weeks - I am still slightly confused as to how that happened - but it should be a good experience for me if not the students!  More on that in another post.

We are now in the process of working with the Swimming Association of the Maldives to recruit  local volunteers to assist and eventually take on the running of the swimming programme in the long term.  This is the overall aim of our work here so getting them on board will be a great start.  Until we get local volunteers we have the newly arrived and still slightly fazed students from Westminster School, Dan and Cat, who have been here just over 24 hours and are getting settled in.  Dan is having a few dietary problems as he doesn't like fish which a bit of a problem as every meal is built around fish from breakfast to supper and all snacks in between! Dan and Cat are assisting in the school with various lessons and will be helping with swimming too and possibly even rowing if progress is fast enough that the boat house is completed before their departure, cross your fingers please.

With progress in both locations continuing, we are now turning our attention to the long term plans for the project and working out how we can ensure that everything we do here is sustainable and effective so a lot of planning is under way.  We are still keen to hear from anyone who would like to be involved in any way shape or form, feel free to get in touch and ask any questions (related to the project, I am not so good at deep philosophy so no meaning of life questions please).

As I mentioned Tash came by for a flying visit last night as she has flown off to the UK for a very brief visit for a friends wedding before returning at the weekend, showing what an excellent friend she is!

Right I am off to make myself feel very ill by doing circuits in the heat, after a day spent writing and reading overly complicated government documents. Lots of diving planned for this weekend so am really looking forward to that, life is not all work here.....

Rachel x

PS Well done to everyone at the World Rowing Championships where the British team did very well, special well done to Jo Cook and the rest of the women's eight as well as the men's four.


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