Where the sun always shines
A report on the Second SAF-Scout
Friendship camp, Maldives by S. Qurat-ul-ain, Pakistan
I am sitting on the milky white sand and feel
myself taking a journey into the realms of tranquility and uniqueness.
I find myself fascinated by the breathtaking beauty of the blanch
white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, bright colorful reefs,
corals and the vast marine life. Suddenly, I hear a sharp voice;
it's my friend telling me that the opening ceremony is about to
take place. Was it a dream? No I say to myself. Its for real, I
am here on one of the wonders of the world that is believed to be
an artist's fantasy, a photographer's fancy, a diver's nirvana and
a peace lover's utopia. Yes, it is Maldives.
Time flies by so quickly and one never realises
what changes the time brings with it. Last year on February 21,
2002, the First SAF-Scout friendship camp was held in Bhutan. Participants
from seven South Asian countries represented their country. Various
resolutions were passed on the theme of the role of girls and boy
scouts in promoting peace and cooperation among the South Asian
nations and it was declared through voting that the next camp would
be held in Maldives. It was a matter of great pride for me that
I was reselected as the SAF Goodwill Ambassador of peace in 2003
for the Second SAF-Scouts camp in Maldives.
The first thing you'll notice as soon as you
get off the plane at Male' International Airport is that the airport
is on an island all by itself. From the air it looks like a giant
aircraft carrier, the runway occupying most of the island. In fact
to build the airport two islands have been connected through reclamation.
However it is a full-fledged international airport that can cater
to the largest of aircraft and is well equipped with modern facilities.
Located just over a kilometer away from Male' the capital, the airport
is connected to the rest of the country by boats and seaplanes.
We were given an extremely warm welcome by the Maldives scouts association
who were there to greet us at the airport. From there we were taken
to a Big Dhoni(a ship) which was to drop us on the camp site on
the uninhabited Island Feydhoo Finolhu .
Throughout the week we had various activities
like Workshops, international night, exhibition and water activities.
This time the camp was different. It was more than what we had expected,
and the best part was that there were lots of activities, which
kept us all busy through out the day. There was a three-day workshop,
which revolved around the themes of "Protection of Environment
to Foster Regional peace and Cooperation" and "Biodiversity".
Many resolutions were made and I happen to be lucky to rephrase
many of the resolutions and get them all passed by the participants.
Right after every workshop we were taken to different
Islands and resorts for excursion. One such inhabited island was
Harru, which is a haven for crabs of various sizes, shapes, and
colours and they are believed to be friendly with the people who
live there. At first I was scared to see so many crabs all over
the island but then somehow I didn't care much or maybe I got friendly
with the crabs. At Harru the people were very friendly and warm,
they treated us with their special coconut water and performed various
The water activities such as snorkeling, rafting,
paddling, banana boat riding, speedboat, water skiing, swimming
etc were very exciting for all of us. Banana Boat riding was one
such water sport, which made our day eventful as it threw us all
into the sea, but thankfully we were saved by the life jackets.
A trip to the Maldives will never be complete without donning a
mask and a pair of fins and experiencing the beauty that sustains
these tiny islands. I tried to do that but I just couldn't think
of getting myself into the deep water.
I tried the unique Maldivian sport of night fishing
which provides a quiet, relaxing time under the stars, out at sea,
rocking gently to the waves, in addition to the excitement of fishing.
In night fishing, the boat is anchored by a reef just before sunset.
Lines are tethered with hooks and sinkers and dropped over board.
The favourite catch is the red snapper and we were very lucky to
catch two of them. Not bad eh!!!!
Resorts, the Main tourist attraction, was just
what I wanted to see. The resort that I went to was just spectacular
and beauteous. I could see the corals and the marine life clearly
through the water and it looked as if the fishes were just gonna
jump up and say 'hi' to me.
We got to see almost the whole of Male. It is
not difficult to find your way around the Maldivian capital, especially
if you carry a map with you. It is only two square kilometers. It
is fun to hang around in Male, with its main street Majeedhee Magu,
running right across the island from east to west. Chaandhanee Magu
on the other hand runs from north to south.
I had made many friends at the camp from all
the seven South Asian countries and we all had lots of fun together.
My Maldivian friends made sure that we enjoyed our stay and participated
in various activities and visited the Islands. Many of my friends
were from those countries where there are only mountains or plains
and this camp was a different kind of experience for them. We enjoyed
our farewell dinner, which was at a very quite and a stunning resort
near Male' called Bandos. An American Band called 'Dragonfly' entertained
us and the food over there was simply delicious. This camp was a
I, on behalf of PBSA would like to thank Shri
Madanjeet Singh (Founder of SAF), SAF officials, Scout Association
of Maldives, Ministry of Education, Maldives and officials from
the WorldScout Bureau Asia Pacific Region for organising the camp
in an excellent manner.
Keats says and I quote
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever..."
I say it is a place where the sun always shines.