Sheraton’s Full Moon Resort has begun a first-of-its-kind community project to help Kudakudhige Hiya children’s home in Vilingili.
Manager of Full Moon, Justin Malcolm, said the Sheraton family is “globally focused on giving back to the community” in every country.
He said they had been looking for a community project in the Maldives for about six months since last year. After looking at the children’s home, Malcolm said, he realised “it is exactly what we’re looking to do.”
Malcolm visited the home, which had been having staff shortages due to financial difficulties earlier this year. Another problem has been overcrowding.
He said there are children aged two months to fourteen years and “a fair little work needs to take place to make it feel like a homely environment.”
He said since “the government doesn’t have enough funds” to to further assist the centre, “and it ticked all the boxes,” management chose Vilingili orphanage as their target project.
He added they felt it was a great opportunity to do something “meaningful” and said “the goal is to make the kids’ lives a little brighter.”
The project is a “long-term partnership” between the resort and the Ministry of Health and Family. Full Moon is the first resort in the Maldives to start a community project with the government, Malcolm noted.
They will also be “updating the facilities” at the home and will be providing a General Practitioner and two dentists to “assess the kids’ health.” The dentists will come in twice a year for check ups and their stay will be sponsored by the resort.
Malcolm added the home does not have air conditioning, and Full Moon hopes to sponsor the installation of AC in the near future.
He said this is an “important time in the Maldives” and believes “we are making history” by sponsoring this project.
“I believe we’ve chosen the right project,” he added. “I don’t see why this can’t be a long-term partnership.”
The project was launched yesterday at the resort, where they had fun activities for the children as well as an environmental awareness campaign, which Malcolm feels “is equally important” for the children.
The launch was celebrated on National Family Day and Malcolm noted the kids had “so much fun.”
Deputy Minister of Health and Family, Mariya Ali, said “Sheraton came forward and were interested in a community assistance project to help Kudakudhige Hiya, and we welcomed it.”
She said although the contract has not been signed yet, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is being developed. She explained because the project will involve volunteers, they are drafting confidentiality agreements to ensure the children’s safety.
Mariya added the project would “strengthen civil society,” as Maldives is such a big tourist destination and this is creating a link between the tourism industry and the local community. “It’s important to make that link,” she noted.
She said the impact on the children’s lives would be “enriching” and added the project will help the home in many ways.
Besides assisting with maintenance, Sheraton will also be holding workshops both for staff and the children. One of them, Mariya noted, would focus on nutrition and preparation of age-appropriate food.
She also noted the two dentists who are being hired and the GP would be of huge assistance to the centre.
Mariya noted the US$20,000 the Chinese government pledged to the home earlier this month have now been transferred to the Ministry of Finance for processing, and as soon as it is finalised, the funds will be allocated.
She said they would mostly be used to upgrade security in the centre.
Mariya said there have been many recent calls from resorts wanting to offer assistance to the home, such as providing food, for instance.
“It’s been a very good response,” she said. “We are working very rapidly on this.”
A Pay-Pal account will also be set up soon and a new campaign will be launched next week.
Director of Kudakudhige Hiya, Ahmed Gazim, said there will be “much improvement” through the Sheraton’s programme. Additionally, he noted, the senior staff are also carrying out awareness programmes for the kids.
“It’s all slowly improving,” he said.