“Explore the Possibilities” Youth Conference held for Lh. Atoll NGO network representatives

The purpose of this conference was to gather young NGO volunteers from Lhaviyani Atoll to discuss the importance of good governance, women’s empowerment, gender equality and community development, and ultimately to educate these young Maldivian citizens on the international political landscape, and how they fit into it locally. The conference was held in the afternoon and evening of the 13th of April 2013 in the Lh. Naifaru multi-purpose building.

The formation of an NGO network within Lhanviyani Atoll was another aim of the conference, with participants gathering from the four inhabited islands to represent their NGOs and CSOs on Naifaru in discussions on the best mechanisms to form a strong network of organisations and how best to both represent and support each other on an atoll or national level.

There were twenty-five participants in total. Two secretariats, plus one participant each from Lh. Atoll council, Madhrasathul Ifthithaah, Lh. Atoll Hospital, Faadhippolhu Naifaru Magistrate Court, Naifaru Police, Tiny Island Conservation, two each from HINT (Hinnavaru), Hinnavaru Youth Society, SKYS (Kurendhoo), the Council Youth Group of Oluvelifushi, and one from the Xiphius Sports Club (Kurendhoo). Naifaru Juvenile had eight representatives present.

The discussion regarding community development was run by Mohamed Ahmed, Vice Chairperson of Naifaru Juvenile, who has studied business internationally, and has extensive experience in NGO project management and self-sufficiency as well as governmental training. The discussion on good governance was run by Mohamed Nazeef, who prioritized ideals of working as a team in decision making, the power of networking, and some insights into successful NGO fundraising. He explained how NGOs should involve themselves in Island and Atoll-level politics, and methods of lobbying and influencing policy.

The discussion on gender equality was run by Adam Isham from Voice of Women, an NGO based in Male’ that is geared towards social action and education about women’s empowerment in Maldives, and who himself is a role model for youth leadership in social issues.

The conference was conducted to encourage participation, and after each facilitator initiated the topic, the floor was then open for discussion on current problems and their possible solutions. Afterwards, the facilitator assisted the group in summarizing the points raised, and helped participants recognize some of their solutions, and how to engage with the issue. The feedback from all participants was positive and considered a wonderful opportunity to meet and share ideas with similarly-minded organizations.

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