Sunday, February 6, 2011

Helping Communities

The role of the Permaculturist for Soneva Fushi does not only mean working on the various gardens in the resort. Soneva Fushi is also committed to helping surrounding communities in any way possible to achieve sustainability on their own islands. Assistance in development of businesses to support with education and educational needs are encouraged..

The Marine Biologist, Kate, Life Manager Waheed and I, recently had a visit to a neighboring island Kihaadhoo.

Kate Waheed and Teachers

Kihaadhoo is 15 minutes by boat, with population of 420. The island is the third largest island in Baa Atoll with an area of 26.40 ha. The main sources of income are tourism, fishing and some seasonal agricultural activities. The island is known for weaving of coconut leaves and coconut rope making.

Rope Making 

 Kihaadhoo School provides education for all school age children 10 to 16 years of age and some from neighboring islands in total 120 students.

Kihaadhoo School Garden

The reason for our visit was to see what support we could offer the local school and community. Every year Soneva Fushi runs an Eco Season where guests can participate in ecological, Marine and community activities run by Kate and myself.  In the past Kihaadhoo is where the community based activities have been held.

The school is the focal point for the whole community and is keen to visit Eco Centro and organic garden on Soneva Fushi. The aim is to then design a sustainable garden system with the school children and Eco Season guests.  The educational garden would be used for the wider community to learn the techniques such as composting, no dig and raised bed designs.
The children already have started gardens and have an Eco Club of 12 directed by the Environment Studies teacher, Shaheeda who is very keen to further develop the schools gardens through learning about Permaculture principles.  The students have built a hut over the water as they said we can’t afford to stay in the resorts so why don’t we build one for ourselves. While we were there they were making a wind turbine to generate electricity for lighting. 

Kihaadhoo School Resort

Shaeedha also wants to develop the children’s knowledge on coral reefs and beach ecosystems, particularly for the primary children before they begin their Fisheries Science courses in Grade 8.  

English language improvement is highly desired, the students are proficient at conversational English though written English needs to be improved.   Kate would like to link the school to a primary school in the UK.  Kate’s primary school wants to get involved in this.  The making of video messages during the activities with guests and the writing of pen pal letters were discussed as ways to help improve their English.  

In the past students have learned a lot from the cultural exchange talks presented by guests especially when a hand on activity was incorporated from the country of the guest like Origami from Japan.

Farm Plot

Each member of the community has their own plot of land for agriculture use where they produce seasonal products such as chilies, papaya and watermelon.  The crops are bought by local resort islands but struggle to supply all year round.

Chilli  Farm

Water Melon

Learning about composting and Permaculture design through the school, could lead to crop supply all year to their hungry markets.

Waste Centre

The community already separates their waste, which is collected by another resort  and sent to a dump site near Male where no recycling is done.  Further motivational education on Reduce, Reuse and Recycling activities about waste management was also seen as necessary.  The school is soon to start a plastic bag campaign, banning plastic bags in the school.  Fish and paper waste are seen as a problem where showing how these resources can be turned into compost and used as sheet mulching materials will help to reduce waste going to the ocean and restore the land for productive crops.

Compost System

We Left Kihaadhoo excited and looking forward to working together to help them acheive their goals !!

School Teachers

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