The second edition of the annual INSPIRE Shore to Open Water Festival was held at Baa Dhonfanu on Friday (10 February) in partnership with Soneva Namoona.
Participants from Baa Maalhos, Dharavandhoo, Dhonfanu, Kamadhoo, Kudarikilu, Kendhoo, Noonu Magoodhoo, Lhohi and Kudafari joined the three-day festival, which celebrated the graduation of 11 Swimming and Water Rescue (SWR) instructors trained through the Namoona INSPIRE program’s Shore to Open Water Series.
The series, which was developed in partnership with the Maldives Swimming and Life Saving Skills Training School (MLSSTS), aims to develop the next generation of ocean-goers and nurture ocean stewardship across island communities. The graduation ceremony was attended by First Lady Fazna Ahmed.
Speaking at the event, the first lady congratulated the graduates and spoke of the importance of Soneva Namoona’s work and praised the support given to such work by island communities and councils.
The SWR training develops swimming instructors that would then go on to train confident swimmers in their communities, equipping them with the necessary skills to safely enjoy the ocean.
In order to graduate, the SWR instructors provided swimming and water rescue lessons to 253 individuals, including women and children in their island communities. Additionally, they completed a 150-hour course that was developed and conducted by the MLSSTS.
During the graduation ceremony, the instructors demonstrated their skills in a simulation drill held at the harbour. The festival also saw a beach and island clean-up, a water polo competition, and a community BBQ with Boduberu.
“It was always my dream to become a swimming instructor. Today, that dream has come true, and now my work begins. I will take this medal to my island and teach school children and the community the importance of the seas and swimming and safety skills. This is my goal,” said Aqisa Ahmed, a graduate of the course from Baa. Dharavandhoo.
“It is our pleasure to host the second iteration of this festival on our island. We are proud to be a partner of Soneva Namoona and be involved in the excellent work that is done in the areas of waste management and ocean stewardship,” said Ahmed Irshad, the Council President of Dhonfanu.
“We are proud to partner with the Namoona Island Communities and co-develop the SOWS programme. We believe that enabling communities to experience and enjoy the ocean will translate into a stronger bond with our natural environment. We would like to congratulate all the graduates on their achievement today,” said Azhoora Ahmed, Soneva Namoona’s Inspire Manager.
The Shore to Open Water Series seeks to build confident swimmers across the Maldives that would in turn allow individuals to take better care of our beautiful oceans. Since its inception, the program has trained 25 instructors and reached over 700 individuals including women and children and provided lessons on swimming and water rescue.
Soneva Namoona is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), that pioneers innovations to create empowered zero waste communities in the Maldives, centred around the three pillars of Reduce, Recycle, Inspire. Since the original pilot of three local islands in 2019, the number of Namoona islands has increased to 21 across Baa, Noonu and Haa Dhaalu Atolls. Soneva Namoona strives to create community-specific solutions to complex issues like waste management in close partnership with island communities.