What an amazing experience to work for two weeks at Thulhaadhoo! I worked again with James and Piggy, and we were offered the opportunity to actually stay on the island with Nooh, a Four Seasons Resort employee who was given time off to help us with our project. Nooh was incredibly welcoming and hospitable, providing us with an entire house to ourselves, three meals each day, and plenty of help on day to day surveys and island information. We could not have asked for a better teammate in working on Thulhaadhoo!
We were welcomed with open arms by the island council, health post, school administration, and women’s committee. All of these groups played a role in assisting us with our project. The island council provided us with resources and a council administrator named Mohammed to help us with our project. They also helped us to establish a long term solution for mosquito control, which involved discussing funding and continuing the project. The health post provided with two employees for the whole two weeks who could help us to survey! Satheema and Fathimath were both very helpful in going door to door to inform locals about mosquito control methods. The school administration allowed us to give presentations to the entire student body. We presented information regarding mosquito breeding habits, disease prevention, and mosquito control. The younger kids were so enthusiastic about participating in the presentation that it was difficult to calm them down at times! We were also able to recruit over 100 students to help us with our island wide clean up, which was incredibly helpful in making the clean up run smoothly and efficiently. The women’s committee president Shaheema was incredibly supportive of the project and even volunteered to help us survey a few days. Although the women’s committee was tied up with political campaigning for the recent election, they still managed to offer us support in the form of volunteers.
While we did have plenty of verbal support from the island, it was difficult to get volunteers to come out to survey consistently because of the political environment which we were working in. Maldivians are very passionate about politics, and many of our supporters were working diligently on political campaigning efforts. This made it difficult to survey the entire island, and we only ended up finishing about 60% of the local homes. Nonetheless, a sustainable plan was put into place with the help of our health post workers which should make the project continue well after our time spent on Thulhaadhoo.
I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to work on such an amazingly beautiful island with incredible people, culture, and scenery. I was more than willing to stay on the island for the entire two weeks! I can only hope to return someday soon.