Scout Profile: Ali Firsuhan from Maldives

Each month International News profiles a Scout from overseas:

Ali Firsuhan, Maldives 

First Scout Promise: In 2004 at the age of 14.

Current Scouting role: I’m a Scout Leader at one of the local Scout Groups in Male’ (the capital city of Maldives) and also the Group Scribe at a community based Rover Crew.

In the real world: I work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives. It gives me nothing but happiness by working in the Government and well it provides the opportunity for me to live and work overseas.

Ali

Ali having some fun while working as a ‘Pinky’ at the Kandersteg Scout Centre

On Scouting crossing global borders: 

Scouting is an international movement that encourages meetings across cultural and geographical borders. It is about being with friends as part of a team, and participating fully in the adventure and other opportunities of life. An important part of Scouting is to meet and develop from the exchange with others from across the globe.

Scouting is my life compass; it has guided me to discover myself and try out many new activities un-common for the typical scholar. Scouting is inseparable; it will always be in my veins forever; the law, the motto, and the promise I vow to live up to for the rest of my life. Scouting truly is a movement with a mission for me. It is more than an organization; it is a way of life. It is what we say and do in the spirit of the scout oath and law. Scouting has always given me fantastic opportunities, that people who are not in scouts will never experience. It’s about having fun with good friends.

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Best part of Scouting:

Scouting is one of the most rewarding and fun organizations that our children and youngsters can be part of. As I have to play different roles in Scouting, from which most responsible and challenging is being a Scout leader. I enjoy spending times with my Scouts. Sure, there are challenges being a scout leader. The weekly commitment to troop meetings, the one weekend a month and one week a year at camp, the challenge with helping reluctant or apathetic parents get involved. But the rewards are tremendous as well as I try in my small way to help build scouts into committed, responsible and successful men. Getting to see young people grow, learn and become responsible and active citizens is without doubt the coolest and most rewarding thing you can do.

On Maldivian Scouting:

We have lot of pancake islands which are extremely flat and floating on the blue ocean where we can go for outings, camping’s etc. Direct access to the vast oceans allows us to run varieties of water activities on natural waters like float camping; you can also take a hike on the turquoise lagoons going from one island to another enriched by white sandy beaches. It’s a haven for water-based activities; swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, canoeing, boating etc. Gorgeous white sand beaches lead out to turquoise waters where colored fish dart in and out of the coral gardens.

Biggest challenge for Scouting today:

We in the Maldives, for us one of the huge challenge is having insufficient youth program. Future youth programme should develop “21st century” skills – in other words, we should be prepared for the challenges awaiting us in the 21st century, trained adults and leaders should be trained with updated tools responding to the current needs. The Youth Programme should remain in tune with evolving global societal realities, trends and technologies.The programme offered to Scouts around the world needs to clearly focus on delivering life skills that are compatible with the requirements of a 21st century society. We must empower our Scouts to put their “dreams into action in partnership with adults.” Leadership skills learned and developed in Scouting are imperative.

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Open Call: help the World Scout Committee

The 40th World Scout Conference in Slovenia set an ambitious level of work for the World Scout Committee to undertake. So, they need help.

In order to draw upon the full talent available in Scouting around the world, the World Scout Committee has issued an Open Call for volunteers to join working groups and taskforces to deliver specific projects, develop tools or review certain policies.

This is a very exciting opportunity for Scouts Australia members to use the skills they have professionally, or have developed through Scouting to contribute to our movement at the world level.

No promises of a grey uniform, but exciting work  awaits

No promises of a grey uniform, but exciting work awaits. Photo: Brendan Watson.

In order to prevent the World Scout Committee from being inundated with applications, Scouts Australia will be operating an initial screening process to assess suitability of applicants.

If you would like to nominate for the World Scout Committee Open Call, you will need to:

  1. Read the full WOSM Circular – available here
  2. Read the World Triennial Plan 2014-2017 – available here
  3. Submit an Expression of Interest to Scouts Australia through the online form by 12th October – available here

If you have any questions, please contact Andrew Cooper, Assistant International Commissioner via email: int.assistantcomm@scouts.com.au

Opening Ceremony: Timor-Leste Scout Activity Centre

“This Centre stands as a testament to the commitment of Scouts Australia to support its near neighbours in developing Scouting for the benefit of their young people,” said Governor-General and Chief Scout of Australia, the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Sir Peter was commenting on the official opening of the Timor-Leste Scout Activities Centre in Metinaro, outside Dili. His Message was read at the special ceremony for the opening.

The Centre was a joint initiative by Scouts Australia and the ACT Government. Working in partnership, the required funds were raised to construct the multi-purpose facility.

“This Centre is the first of its kind in Timor-Leste”, Neville Tomkins, International Commissioner, Scouts Australia, said in addressing the 300 VIPs, leaders and youth at the opening on Friday 26 September 2014. “But it is far more than bricks and mortar – it is a symbol of growth of Scouting in Timor-Leste, and will be the emotional home of Scouting in this country for generations to come.”

“This has been Scouts Australia’s largest international project, to help build a better world,” Neville said. “We also hope this Centre will provide opportunities for Scouting to grow over the coming decades, and to contribute to the growth of this nation.”

The opening marked the end of 4 years of dedicated effort by Neville. He was the main driver behind the “Dollars for Dilli” campaign, which raised close to a quarter of a million dollars for projects in Timor-Leste. He also project-managed the construction working remotely.

Timor-Leste is Australia’s second nearest neighbour. It is the world’s newest nation, but one of its poorest. Over half of the population are under the age of 18, which presents significant challenges for Timor-Leste, but also enormous opportunities for Scouting.

The President of the National Parliament, His Excellency Mr Vicente Guterres, and Minister Mick Gentleman MLA, representing the people of Canberra, opened the Centre, noting that Dili and Canberra are Friendship Cities. Dr Chao, Chairman, Asia-Pacific Region of World Scouting, Reg Williams, Chief Commissioner, and David Jones, National Chairman, were on hand to witness the opening.

Venturer Service in Timor-Leste

Crystal Limcango and Partick Arellano, Capernaum Venturer Unit, Catholic Archdiocese Scout Group

Our mission was to volunteer our services to paint and landscape the newly constructed National Scout Activity Centre in Metinaro. At 7am, on Sunday the 29th of June 2014, we took on the voyage to accomplish our mission. There were many obstacles along the way, the smallest of unexpected events made the trip more worthwhile. On our arrival at Dili airport, we were welcomed with humidity and warmth. The airport was small, only because not many people travel in and out of Timor Leste.

Works at the Metinaro site

On Monday we travelled to Metinaro, up hills which had hidden villages and spontaneous holes in the ground. The site where we would be completing our service project was still a construction site and therefore deemed unsafe for us to use as our accommodation. This led to temporary homelessness until Duarte Amaral, Principal of the local school, came to our rescue by allowing us to stay at the school in two of the classrooms. School in Metinaro starts at 7am, with morning exercises at 5:30am every morning, 6 days a week. The school educated 500 students from kindergarten to primary with 10 classrooms. During our two stay at Metinaro we enjoyed the company of the many Cubs and Scouts.

We returned to Dili on Tuesday. In Dili we went to Torismo in Becora where we were warmly welcomed by a large number Scouts and Venturers. After our introductions, we played games and enjoyed an afternoon tea. We danced the Macarena, exchanged smiles and laughter. We also exchanged contact details, surprisingly Faceboook names as well.

On Wednesday, we visited the Nicolau Lobato School in Tasi Tolu. Although this school was only twenty minutes away from the previous school we attended, the scenery had changed so much. We again introduced ourselves and talked about our personal interests and our lives. We then were taken to a site of the 3 Lagoons. Yes, when we heard the word ‘Lagoon’ we thought ‘beautiful’ or ‘lovely’ but the lagoons were very special. We conducted a Scouts Own and prayed as one, after we had learnt the significance of these Lagoons and the historical context. During the Indonesian occupation people who were killed during that time were thrown into the Lagoon and their bodies were never recovered. It was a very emotional time for all. Every single one of us had tears in our eyes and our smiles were momentarily taken away by such sadness. It was extremely challenging to comprehend the history of lagoons. Filomena Reis, International Commissioner, then reminded us to not feel saddened but “Be strong” as the time is over and we must continue to keep fighting for freedom throughout the world. This visit was one of the highlights of our entire trip.

Thursday came and we visited the Rovers of the Emaus Group located at Gembel Art Community Centre in Bidau Licidere where we immersed ourselves in the Timor Leste art, learning the meanings behind art pieces. We gave them a drawing to show our gratitude for their hospitality and in return they gave us a colourful sculpture.

Next day, being Friday, we returned to Metinaro to paint the Activity Centre and with the assist of many of our Timorese Scouting brothers and sisters, we were able to successfully paint the interior and exterior of the building which was the aim of our service project.

This trip was a life changing experience in many ways. It challenged personal virtues such as patience, challenged the luxuries we take for granted as some of us experienced squat toilets for the first time. It strengthened faith, the value of using hand sanitiser, the worries of taking malaria pills every morning in fear that one mosquito bite could make us sick, even though in our environment this would have been the least of our worries. We learnt personally what not to take for granted and how privileged we are for the opportunities we are given in life. But most importantly, the establishment of lifelong friendships which is worth more than anything you could take away from the journey, and as the Timorese would say:

“we don’t have anything to offer you, only our friendship.”

Farewell photo with the scouts and leaders from Metinaro Group

Disaster Relief Fund

Scouts Australia recently approved the creation of a fund to assist Scouts internationally in the event of a natural or man made disaster. When the devastating Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, a number of Scouts Australia members raised concerns that we had no centralised, formal mechanism to assist those most in need.

“The ability to help Scout Associations help their countries in their time of need is vitally important”

“Internationally, Scouts often play an important role assisting during disasters, and the Scout program is vital in building resilient communities after disasters. Funding National Scout Organisations is an efficient and direct way of providing assistance.”

International Commissioner, Neville Tomkins.

MexicoHaitiFrom time to time, international contingents to major events return a financial surplus, and $20,000 of these funds have been used to seed the Disaster Relief Fund.

Scouts Australia has a track record in helping disaster affected Scouts, from a major respite program for victims of the Chernobyl disaster in the late 1980s, to assistance for Scouts after the tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia on Boxing Day 2004, as well as to the Scouts of Japan after the 2011 Fukushima disaster through the SISEP program and 2013 Australian Jamboree.img-detail-129

Lattitude Global Volunteering and Scouts Australia

Scouts Australia is delighted to announce that is has reached an agreement with the Melbourne based not-for-profit Lattitude Global Volunteering.

Lattitude and Scouts Australia both offer over 18s the opportunity to work in Scout Centres in the United Kingdom. Lattitude offers a ‘full service’ that includes flights, insurance etc. Scouts Australia only offers a basic facilitation service – do it yourself after initial introductions.

Latitude Global Volunteering has been in operation since 1972.

Latitude Global Volunteering has been in operation since 1972.

Lattitude and Scouts Australia will now cross-promote so that Scouts Australia members are aware of all their options when planning an gap year, or working holiday overseas in a Scout Centre. As part of the agreement, Scouts Australia members will get priority placements with Lattitude in Scout Centres in the UK.

Arrangements for Scout Centres outside of the UK remain unchanged by this agreement, and people interested in working in other countries should proceed as per the directions outlined on our website.

Lattitude Global Volunteering and Scouts Australia will also cooperate on development projects in the Pacific, so that we can maximise our effectiveness on the ground, tying together the Scout program and the school programs that Lattitude delivers.

Network Your Service

Greetings from Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s pretty humid, but the food is good and the hospitality excellent.

Scouts Australia is here for an Asia-Pacific Regional get together to discuss the Messengers of Peace (MoP) initiative. For those that don’t know, MoP is the product of a big donation to world Scouting, that is allowing Scouts around the globe to be Messengers of Peace and ‘Create a Better World’.

Scouts Australia has received funding for its work in Timor-Leste, and to help equip leaders in Australia, and around the world, with strategies to combat bullying.

Aside from the money is the opportunity for all Scouts to network their service. The MoP Network allows Scouts to share their service experiences and see what other Scouts around the world are doing to interact with their communities. You can also record your service hours and contribute to Scouts Australia’s total.

Currently Scouts Australia is ranked 24th in the world in terms of service hours. Can you help us to lift our position?

For more information of MoP in Australia, visit our website, email Lizz, or comment below.