It’s always hard to leave Maldives not knowing when or if I will return. I know I can count on friends like Ashiya, who greeted me when the trip began and escorted me to the airport. Hilmy sent his good wishes but wisely chose to stay with his ailing mother at the hospital.
Thanks to the support of Fulbright, the US Embassy in the Colombo and the president’s office in Maldives, and Dhi TV, this trip was a success in terms of reaching a lot of people and maybe changing their lives a little bit. Bishara, the beautiful presenter from DhiTV was busily working on a story as I said my final round of goodbyes. I also made some connections for a couple of well-intentioned grad students from CUNY, who call themselves the Maldives Journalism Project. They received a peace grant to teach citizen journalism here, but were having trouble connecting with actual Maldivians. They’ll be teaching multimedia reporting for a few weeks at DhiTV and the College of Maldives. I also arranged for the US Embassy to donate civics books to the college.
Now it’s up to the Maldivians to put their partisan politics aside long enough to try and move their country forward before the next presidential election about three years from now. A workable adversarial relationship between government agencies and the media is a good start. One of the DhiTV program hosts, Kudu, had spoken of the pride he feels in the beauty of these islands whenever he is flying in or out of the country. I hope this isn’t my last look!