Goidhoo-Mosquito Heaven!

Goidhoo has some unique challenges with mosquito control.  Large fresh water lakes breed huge numbers of mosquitoes and appear to be home only to mosquitoes and none of their predators!  The Goidhoo Council President, Mohamed Amir and Wisham, one of the Community Health Officers  and I  spent some time recently checking out the mosquito populations in one of the lakes, it is truly impressive with what could easily be millions of mosquito larvae, pupae and emerging adult mosquitoes!  We brainstormed various possible short term and long term solutions.

At the same time our team was working with the community to survey the town to locate and eliminate mosquito breeding.  We had fun meeting with the school children from K-5th grade today.  We danced the hokey pokey, talked about mosquitoes and did a “Dengue Destroyers” cheer!   We invited them to join us both for the clean up of the island happening this Saturday and to come back after school to help our team, the Community Health Workers and Council members survey the homes on the  island for mosquito breeding.  Join us they did, we had quite an impressive turn out, including community leaders, community members and children joining us for survey this afternoon, about 70 people!  A good time was had by all and impressive numbers of mosquitoes were eliminated from the Goidhoo community.

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Here we go!

So, we’ve been here for three days or now and it’s still hard to believe I’m here with such an amazing group of people. My Maldivian teammates are amazing and incredible to hangout with as always but it’s very relieving to find out that our American counterparts are just the same.

Meeting new people is always quite daunting for me but they are quite easy to get along with. The fact that they’re so easy to laugh with, talk to and just have fun as Syd always likes to say is just, I have no words for it. I believe these guys are pretty incredible and will be quite the force to be reckoned with in the coming weeks. From tackling Community health officers and council members to snorkeling with Mantas, every day is quite the adventure.

The project makes me feel a little nervous at times whenever I think about how big it is. But then I realize that I’m surrounded by some of the coolest teammates one could ask for and incredible, energetic and amazing mentors in Syd, Lirar and Trudy!

Tomorrow we go out and start this project for real!

Dengue Destroyers!

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Finally Here!

Touched down in the Maldives a few days ago and what a start it has been! After a couple of lengthy layovers and more than enough time spent in the air, I can say it has most definitely been worth the wait to arrive in my new home for the next six weeks at the Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru.

We spent our first night getting to know our Maldivian volunteer partners who picked us up from the airport in the capital of Male with a “Welcome UCSC Volunteers” hand drawn sign. What a welcoming and friendly gesture to arrive to after such lengthy travels. I distinctly remember spotting them from within the airport gate, giving them a wave and watching them jump in the air in elation to finally be able to get acquainted. I must admit that although I was fairly exhausted, the excitement was most certainly shared. After discussing Eid celebrations, Maldivian customs, football (or soccer), and our anticipation of the upcoming project over smoothies and snacks, we retired to a local hotel for a much needed night’s rest.

The following day our group woke up early to be greeted again by our new Maldivian volunteer friends. Today meant the chance to finally travel to Landaa Giraavaru, the island within the Baa Atoll which would be our new home for the coming weeks. I also got the chance to finally meet Trudy Rilling-Collins, our fearless leader and mosquito lady coordinator, or madiri dataa as the Maldivians would say in their native language of Dhivehi. Sydney Miller and Ibrahim Lirar, our other two leaders, also greeted us at the Landaa Giravaru dock.

It is these three individuals who have worked relentlessly to make this project happen and allow for me to have this amazing opportunity. I cannot wait to learn from Trudy, Sydney, and Lira along this wild ride of a mosquito control project in the Baa atoll. Trudy’s seemingly endless knowledge of mosquitos, their life cycle, and their breeding habitats will provide us with the tools we need to attack the issue head on. Sydney’s leadership skills, organization, and amazing attitude will give us the confidence to be able to travel island to island with the necessary tools at hand. Lira’s connection with the Maldivian people and relentless attitude in tackling this problem will help to provide the bridge needed to connect with families and communities. All together, we have an amazing team comprised of some incredibly talented people. I can’t wait to see what the coming weeks have in store for us!

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What I’m Looking Forward To

When I heard about the opportunity to go to the Maldives this summer I thought it would be a great way to get some hands on experience while also helping and teaching people. I have done some previous traveling in Europe, but I have no doubts that the Maldives will be a completely different and amazing experience. I’m looking forward to meeting the Maldivian people and learning about their culture and customs. It will be a great experience to work with different communities and community members to execute this project and hopefully it will have long lasting benefits for everyone that is involved. Lastly I am really looking forward to seeing the diverse marine habitats, especially the coral reefs. I’ve read about them a lot in my classes and it will be awesome to finally see some first hand. I feel this project is going to be an awesome way meet tons of new people,  learn by working with local communities, make friends, and explore the awesome surroundings. Hopefully if you’re reading this I will get to meet you at some point during the six week project. Cant wait for August!

 

What drew me to volunteer with the Baa Atoll mosquito control project

 

I think an often overlooked portion of our formal education is learning ways of life different than our own. Higher education in the U.S. is it’s own bubble of culture that is easy to remain seated in. It tends  to make me restless though, which drew me to do some studies in Africa. Through travels I’ve seen there’s a lot of work that needs doing at home, and probably more that needs doing abroad. Volunteering with Trudy seemed to me like an amazing opportunity to learn while at the same time making a contribution. The Maldives are in a region of the world I’ve never explored,  a unique cultural area paired with some amazing ecology. I’m looking forward to a lot there, especially learning some of the language and offering health and environmental teaching. I love coral reefs and would like to do some diving. I hope that I learn to understand people there and how I can facilitate involvement in helpful community projects. I can’t wait to meet everyone!

 

Looking over Victoria fallsCamping in South AfricaSnowboardingRugby teamBackpacking