Kash Izydorczyk

7 mins read

We fly up to Soneva Fushi to have a chat with Kash Izydorczyk who heads Soneva Namoona. Kash is an expert in the areas of education, facilitation and working with young people and has years of experience in teaching, coaching basketball, and managing summer schools. We talk briefly about her career and focus on Soneva Namoona, a programme with big aims for the atoll and the country at large. 

Hotel Insider: We notice that you have worked with children early in your career, you were also a secondary school teacher in the Maldives. 

Kash: Yes, I was up north in Kulhudhuffushi at Afeefuddin School and I really enjoyed my time there. It made me want to stay in the Maldives actually. 

Hotel Insider: Education and teaching are very close to your heart.

Kash: Yes, I have an academic background in education. I’ve also worked with children and young people extensively, since I was a young person myself, coaching basketball since the age of sixteen. I’ve run summer camps, which I thoroughly enjoy as it is a setting where you can have a direct impact and see results. Providing that kind of safe space for young people to find out who they are and think about their own potential is something very valuable in my opinion.

In the Maldives, I am working on a project called Flying Fish Leadership, which provides exactly that type of space for young people to reflect on their values and dreams, while developing their personal and community leadership skills. Our pilot programme took place in September in Haa Alif Atoll and my hope is that we will empower and inspire many more young people across the Maldives. 

Hotel Insider: We’d also like to know what drew you to the Soneva Namoona Programme.

Kash: Well, I had the opportunity to be here while the Sustainability Symposium was held back in 2019, when the strategising to address the problem of single-use plastics and ocean plastics took place. It was very interesting but I left for Canada soon after to work at an off-the-grid adventure school. Sonu contacted me when he knew I was looking at returning to the Maldives with the Flying Fish Leadership project as he wanted to support the programme. He explained that Soneva Namoona was launched and told me all about the project at the time. The more I learned about it, the more it appealed to me. Soon after, I accepted my dream job as the Director of Soneva Namoona. Soneva Namoona has three components: reduce, recycle and inspire, and we have dedicated people heading each of the workstreams. I oversee the operations of the NGO, however, more specifically, within the Inspire component, there is a significant educational piece where I can offer some of my expertise, which thrills me. For me, all three components fit well and really integrate into a meaningful strategy – the notion of spreading awareness so that you reduce waste and have less waste to manage. To do all this, you need to have an idea of how waste impacts everything from our personal experience to global impacts.

Hotel Insider: What are you contributing to it?

Kash: [Laughs] Well, Fehi Madharusaa is a project I am working very closely on. It is in partnership with the Ministry of Education and National Institute of Education (NIE). Fehi Madharusaa is a framework for schools to incorporate environmental education into their ethos. On the one side, you have teachers informing students of environmental issues and the importance of climate change in every subject at every level. While, in parallel Fehi Teams, made up of passionate students and teachers, implement whole school activities incorporating the aims of the program: to reduce the environmental footprint of the school, to increase eco-literacy and to promote climate prosperity (the four themes for activities are: waste, ocean, island and innovation). This whole school approach to environmental education is about being resourceful to promote ‘Fehi Values’ (green values) at every level – individual (me), group (we), governance (policy) and deep conscience (mentality). 

Hotel Insider: So what would be your ideal outcome?

Kash: For Fehi Madharusaa, the ideal outcome would be that every school in the Maldives becomes a Fehi Madharusaa. That means every school in the Maldives reduces their environmental footprint and takes waste seriously. It means that we all increase our understanding of the importance of the relationship between us, our behaviour and our environment. Also, there’s promoting climate prosperity to ensure that the young people who are in school currently are ready for a new type of world and craving more skills and knowledge to be able to support a changing environment. 

For Soneva Namoona NGO, our work is our commitment to tackling the single-use plastic problem in the Maldives by working together to empower zero waste communities. Currently we are working directly with 11 island councils and communities on reducing single use plastics by promoting alternatives; establishing more sustainable waste management practices and nurturing environmental stewardship. Recently we become the strategic and technical consultant to the Noonu Atoll Council on implementing the Namoona Sustainable Waste Management Model at an atoll-level. The ideal outcome for our NGO is to see empowered zero waste communities across the entire country, every island becoming a Namoona island. 

Hotel Insider: Thank you, Kash for a really good chat.