In the shimmering garland of islets, known collectively as the Maldives, its inhabitants and lucky visitors live with the vast Indian Ocean lapping at its palm fringed beaches, just a mere one and a half metres above sea level. The Maldives is the lowest country on earth. Remarkably, despite this proximity to the sea, many Maldivians grow up without learning to swim. While this poses a clear risk to life, it also means that children gain little environmental awareness of the precious and extraordinary marine ecosystems that surround them or the threat of inundation from climate change.
Soneva Fushi, the perfect getaway for the modern Robinson Crusoe with tree house living, exquisite local, organic food, and a slow, unhurried approach to travel has set up a learn to swim programme. This is designed to teach local children to become more confident in the water and inspire a new generation of Maldivians to protect their endangered coral reefs.
Over the past two months, a total of 60 Grade 3 students from two local islands, Eydhafushi and Maalhos, put on snorkels and learnt the fun, basics of swimming, with one child going into the water for the first time. The training was provided by Soneva Hosts and other volunteers. A graduation ceremony was recently held at Soneva Fushi where the children were presented with certificates, and they had the chance to go snorkelling.
The Learn to Swim Programme is an initiative of the 2013 SLOWLIFE Symposium, an annual event organised by the SLOWLIFE Foundation and sponsored by Soneva that convenes leading figures to collaborate on environmental and social initiatives. The total number of students that have participated in the programme exceeds 130 in just two years.
The Soneva Fushi is the epitomy of a slow, eco-chic luxury resort, and one that The Telegraph describes as a ‘no news, no shoes , haven of calm for the mind, body and soul.’ The natural building materials used throughout the resort add to the sense of being on the perfect desert, castaway island. The resort champions local, organically grown produce, a slow, back to basics approach to life and has a marvellous observatory, hidden in the canopy, where you can go and admire the suns around Jupiter with remarkable, kaleidoscopic clarity.
To find out more about getting away from it all at Soneva Fushi – www.soneva.com