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The first course on Social Service Work in the Maldives

This is the first field trip for Ibrahim Shareef, a young man at the Maldives College of Higher Education. Like Ibrahim, his classmates all come from different parts of the Maldives, an archipelago nation made of 1,200 small islands. The young men and women have come to the capital city Male’ to be part of a six-month training course, which will help them become the first Social Service Workers trained entirely in the Maldives.

“Social service is a new concept in the Maldives,” says Ibrahim, 24. “We don’t have such services in the island where I come from, not even in my atoll.” His classmate Mohamed Niushad adds: “In my island, nobody really knows what social service is, and how a social service worker can help them,” he says. “Our communities are faced with so many problems, but we don’t have trained professionals capable of dealing with such issues.”

One of such issues, says Mohamed, is child abuse and neglect, something he had experienced himself. To understand the magnitude of the problem, their first field trip has chosen to be a children’s home in Villingili, an island just off Male’.

“We are the only centre of its kind in the whole Maldives,” notes Aishath Fahudha Khaleel, a counselor at the Kudakudhinge Hiya Children’s Home. There are 38 children currently living in the centre, and according to Ms. Khaleel, most of them were brought here because of neglect or abandonment. “Some of the children’s parents are in the drug rehabilitation centres, while others have difficulty in coping with their family breakdowns,” she says. 

For Ibrahim and many of his classmates, the visit has been an emotional one.

“There are so many little children living here, it makes me really sad,” says Aminath Rashidha, 19. “I have come here to study Social Service Work, so that I can help my community,” she says. “I don’t want any more children to suffer from these issues any more.”

After graduation, the young people will go back to their atolls. They will be working at 10 Family and Child Service Centres set up only recently by the Ministry of Gender and Family to provide much needed protection services for the island communities.

 “Our people need services that can help them cope with their problems, whether it is drug abuse or family breakdowns,” says Ibrahim. “I want to be a Social Service Worker, and I want to be one of the first in the Maldives to provide such services to the people in the islands.”



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