On a little island, where palm trees sway and children play, there are three cars, two doctors and a school. There is also a police station, a court to get married in, a health centre where the two doctors work, a kindergarten, and a whole lot of surfing. This is the idyllic island of Himmafushi.
Measuring just 1.8 kilometres wide and 2.2 kilometres long, Himmafushi is one of 200 inhabited islands in the Maldives. Altogether, the Maldives has close to 1200 islands grouped into 26 atolls. In Himmafushi itself, there are about 1180 people. On this island, everyone knows everyone.
The main jobs here are found in the government sector. There is a municipal and social service centre that runs the island. A dedicated team works hard to provide water and electricity, manage waste, and build schools for the tight-knit community. Other locals run small businesses like guest houses and provision shops. There is also a tuna canning factory and a water bottling facility.
Himmafushi is also just a 10-minute ferry ride from Gili Lankanfushi. In fact, the resort provides a free ferry service for the locals to and from the capital city of Malé every day. This is just one of the ways in which Gili Lankanfushi tries to reach out to the local community at Himmafushi
and meet their needs.
The management at Gili Lankanfushi also believes that a good community project starts with the young, and the resort has contributed significantly to the Himmafushi School. Besides making donations to help keep the school running and paying for the salary of a full-time English teacher, Gili Lankanfushi is also committed to giving educational workshops at the school, covering topics that range from plastic recycling and pollution to sustainability and marine biodiversity.
On top of that, the students at the school also get to go on day visits and sustainability tours at Gili Lankanfushi. There, they have the opportunity to learn firsthand about caring for the environment and explore the microscopic world in the marine biology laboratory. The resort’s human resource team also gives advice to graduating students on how to prepare their resumes and do well at interviews.
As part of Gili Lankanfushi’s sustainability and outreach programme, the resort staff also help with waste management and plastic recycling at Himmafushi. The plastic collected during beach and island clean-ups are recycled by Parley into other useful products.
The efforts seem to be paying off. At the Himmafushi School, which provides free education to more than 170 children, fourth-grade student Mishya puts it simply, “It is important to recycle because it is important to protect the earth. If the earth dies, the fish will die.”
It takes a village to raise a child. But it takes us all to heal the world.