To be able to understand, learn and enjoy life in an environmental friendly atmosphere became possible through the kindness of Madanjeet Singh, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and founder of South Asia Foundation, who managed and sponsored the 2nd Friendship Camp second time and ensured the continuation of such annual camps.
As a contingent leader for Pakistan, I enjoyed the company of 20 boy and girl scouts with the assistance of adult leader Ms. Samina.
The members of this contingent came from different cities including Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Islamabad, Gilgit, Turbat, Muzaffarabad, Pishine and Mansehra. Provincial Associations, Punjab and PIA provided all the facilities during our stay at Lahore and Karachi.
The entire contingent reached Male, the capital of the Maldives via Doha, Qatar, so this enabled us to stay at Doha for one day and visit the big malls, market and city centre.
This was made possible by Scout leaders Mr. Azhar Khan, Mr. M. Usman from Bright Future Institution and Mr. Ashfaq from Pak Shama School, Doha who made the necessary arrangements for us to visit the whole city in only one day. The contingent is very much thankful to all our friends in Doha.
To land on Male international airport is a unique experience. The plane seems to float on the waves of the Indian Ocean. The islands are so small that one has to hire a ship or boat from Male airport to Male city. The entire contingent reached the campsite destination at Feydho Finolhu, a small island, 15 km from Male by 17th February 2003. The campsite is administered through the Ministry of Education Maldives.
The Opening Ceremony was organized on 17th February 2003 at 16:00 hours. The Minister for Education GOM, was the Chief Guest of the Ceremony. Mr. Saied Akbar; High Commissioner of Pakistan in Maldives along with other dignitaries attended the opening ceremony.
Cultural and scout items were presented by all the contingents, providing opportunities for all scouts to further understand and respect each other’s cultures.
International Night & Live Music
Live music performance was part of the daily programme for which a dynamic music group was engaged to entertain in several languages. Boys and girls were also invited onto the stage and sang songs in English and local languages.
International night was also designed as another opportunity to show and see the culture of the seven countries, including folk dances, folk songs, customs and traditions etc.
No doubt one of the live concerts, the marvellous performance of Miki Singh (Dragon Fly) on 22nd February 2003 following the farewell dinner at Bandus Island was much appreciated. The group came from the United States and also distributed their CDs among the participants.
Workshops were the regular daily activity in which participants discussed and presented their reports on environmental issues. The main theme of this camp was "Protection of the Environment to Foster Regional Peace and Cooperation".
Eighteen groups consisting of the participants from each member country were formed. Some experts on the relevant topics delivered good lectures. The active participation of the Pakistani Contingent can be observed by their positions in the sub-groups.
Fifteen Pakistani boys and girls were elected as Chairman/Chairperson or Secretary of 18 sub-groups and presented group reports during the workshop.
Mr. Jehanzaib Khan from Pakistan was elected as Secretary of the Executive Committee of the 2nd SAF Scout Camp while the remaining positions were as follows:
Chairman: Asadh (Maldives)
V. Chairman: Kuenga Leundup (Bhutan)
Secretary: Jehanzaib Khan (Pakistan)
Reporter: Amith (Nepal)
The absence of female participation in the Executive Committee was really felt in the mixed gathering of the 2nd SAF Scouts Friendship Camp.
Excursions to resorts and inhabited islands were arranged with planned environmental-friendly activities. Each member country planted a coconut sample in Hulhule-Farukolhufushi lagoon located about 1.5 km away from Male.
Harru was another island where a warm welcome was given by the people, children and administration. Folk music and dances were presented by the local community and were much appreciated by all participants, who were also served with coconut milk.
Different groups were formulated to visit some of the most beautiful resorts in the world, found in the Maldives. Among these, was Embudu village, which claims to be a private paradise of sun, sea, surf, sand and sport. Turquoise blue water and the sound of coconut trees in the breeze proved the truth of their claim.
Water Sports & Night Fishing
The most exciting and unique activities, much enjoyed by all the participants, were water activities and night fishing. A full day for water activities was arranged in which sailing, night fishing, banana boat riding, peddle boating, speed boat riding and many other water activities were arranged for all participants. The most enjoyable was the banana boat, which involves up to a dozen persons climbing on a giant, inflatable banana which is dragged around a lagoon by a speedboat. To ride such a boat and jump aboard on the open sea is not only fun but encourages confidence and courage.
The contingent also enjoyed it when the boat capsized (part of the activity) and swimmers from speed boats dived in to rescue the individuals.
The Closing Ceremony was held on 21st February 2002 in which Mr. Ismail Shafique, Chief Commissioner of Scout Association of Maldives was the Chief Guest. He emphasized that it is the responsibility of each individual to contribute towards protection of the environment for the benefit of those who are yet to come. Qazi Zahoor Ul Hassan Secretary, PBSA presented souvenirs to all the contingents and the World Scout Bureau on behalf of Ms. Zobaida Jalal, Chief Commissioner, PBSA. Souvenirs and certificates were also presented by SAF / SAM to all the contingents and participants.
Cultural show & Exhibition
22nd February was the day for cultural performances in an exhibition that took place in an air-conditioned multi-story building at Male Capital. The exhibition had several aspects worthy of admiration:
- Almost all the participants worn their cultural / local dresses.
- Seven Stalls (full of scout and cultural items such as clothes, jewelry, posters, musical instruments, folk items etc,) were decorated to represent the different cultures.
- Cultural items were presented during the exhibition.
- Shri Madanjeet Singh, SAF Founder along with the SAF Country Chairpersons personally visited and presented souvenirs.
- The presence of Ms. Saleema Hashmi, Pak SAF Chairperson, was also greatly welcomed by the Pak Contingent.
Reception from Pakistan High Commissioner
The Pakistan High Commissioner at Male invited all the contingent leaders (male and female) and members of the World Scout Bureau to lunch. The taste of Pakistani food in Male was enjoyed by all. The Secretary of PBSA also presented souvenirs to the High Commissioner of Pakistan.
The last contingent to leave Maldives was Pakistan. To say goodbye to others is not an easy task. You develop an association with living or even non-living things. Certain sentiments emerge. To meet, to develop friendship and to depart are the essentials of life. So, with mixed feelings the Pakistani contingent left Male on 24th February 2003.
1. This SAF Friendship camp was the result of all the efforts of Shri Madanjeet Singh and his team, i.e. SAF Chairpersons who were physically there and the staff who, although not present, made the impossible possible through their efforts.
2. Guidance and counseling from the World Scout Bureau remained available to participants throughout the camp. The expertise of Mr. Abdullah Rasheed, himself a host being Maldivian, and Mr. Syed Castillo, Programme Executive's was greatly appreciated.
3. The formation of the Pakistani contingent was the responsibility of the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association. Ms. Zobaida Jalal, Chief Commissioner; Mr. Sarfraz Ahmed Syed, Sr. Dy Chief Commissioner; Qazi Zahoor Ul Hassan, Secretary; and Cdr. Aftab A. Qureshi, Director, PBSA managed and guided the contingent.
Vision for 3rd Camp
Participants at the first camp in Bhutan made the suggestion to hold the 2nd Camp in the Maldives. Although a recommendation was not forthcoming at the 2nd Camp, the majority of the participants were of the view that the 3rd Camp should take place in Pakistan. I strongly request/suggest that next camp be organized in either India or Pakistan as I believe that scouting is among the effective channels for reducing the tension between these two countries. As peace is one of the priorities of such camps, so special efforts should be made in this regard.
My complements and special thanks to all our Maldivian brothers and sisters who looked after and cared for the entire contingent from the arrival lounge to the departure lounge of Male International Airport under the Leadership of Mr. Ismail Shafiq Chief Commissioner, the Scout Association of Maldives. These words are not the end of my report but the beginning of an everlasting relationship.
We are anxiously waiting to host the SAF Friendship Camp in Pakistan, the land of mountains, deserts, fields, rivers and above all love and friendship.
Contingent Leader of Pakistan Boy Scout Association (PBSA)