Our first full week of working on the ground in the Baa Atoll has commenced, and what a week it has been. We started by working together as a full team unit on our first day, learning how to tackle specific situations regarding mosquitos and their breeding zones. From the terrible T’s (tires, tanks, tarps, and toilets) to buckets, gutters, and plastics, mosquitos are not picky in choosing their breeding habitats. Each individual standing water location may have its own solution, and identifying that solution is where critical thinking comes into play. How can we handle each scenario to make sure mosquitos don’t have access to that water again? Additionally, how can we handle each scenario in a way that is sustainable for the community?

With these questions constantly in the back of our minds, we set out going from home to home, lot to lot, and beach to beach with our supplies at hand. It’s pretty amazing the attitude homeowners have when we knock on their door. They are incredibly welcoming and warm, often times providing us with drinks and a joali, a Maldivian chair used for “hanging out” (they are often times hung from a beam or tree). As much as the hospitality is appreciated, we have a ton of work ahead of us at all times, so we try not to get too comfortable.

While the mosquito hunting and “Dengue destroying” has been exhausing, the most tiring event of the week came on Saturday with the Eydhafushi beach clean up. Working together with the local school, more than 200 volunteers showed up to help us clean up their island! What we thought would take an entire day ended up taking just a few hours to scour the beaches and streets for trash, namely anything that could potentially be a mosquito breeding site. It was such an encouraging site to walk up to the school and see so many volunteers who showed us that they truly about their community and wanted to be a part of something special. My group in particular consisted of fifth through ninth graders and a few women. Their incredible work ethic, enthusiasm, and resilient attitude reminded me of the power and spirit we share as human beings. Although the beach clean up was definitely the most exhausting and work filled event of the week, it was the by far the most uplifting.

As much as the work on this volunteer project has been tiring and debilitating, it is incredibly fulfilling. It is such an honor and privilege to be able to help people in need, and the Maldivians we have shared the work with have been nothing short of spectacular. What a first week!