December 6, 2021

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By Leanna Crowley, Marketing Communications Manager, Six Senses Laamu Resort


Since 2016, the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) by Six Senses Laamu has organized a community festival in Laamu Atoll with the aim of raising awareness of and increasing protection for sea turtles. The Laamu Turtle Festival brought people from across the atoll together to pledge ‘Turtles in Laamu – Safe and Protected’. In 2019, MUI recognized the growing need to raise awareness about the conservation of entire marine ecosystems and the services they provide, in order to safeguard the Maldives from the negative effects of climate change or unsustainable practices. That is why, in 2019, the resort and local stakeholders in Laamu Atoll voted to broaden the scope of the 4th annual festival to Laamafaru Festival, or ‘Laamu’s Reefs Festival’ in Dhivehi, under the theme ‘Our Ocean – Safe and Protected’.

 

(c) Leanna Crowley

 

This community event has grown from 500 attendees at the first-ever atoll-wide turtle festival in 2016, to over 1,500 participants in 2019 when the last festival took place. In previous years, the festival was always held in one island, with resort staff and schools traveling to the venue to organize and participate in it. This year, with local travel restrictions in place, the resort team and local stakeholders came together to think of alternative arrangements for the festival given that inter-island travel was restricted.

 

(c) Leanna Crowley

 

The solution was that on Saturday, November 6th, 2021, seven different Laamafaru Festivals took place simultaneously on different islands around Laamu Atoll. By running separate festivals every student, teacher and parent in each school had the opportunity to participate. In years previous, participant numbers were limited to boat availability and transport requirements to and from the festival. Because of this, the 2021 Laamafaru Festivals reached thousands of community members- more than ever before.

 

(c) Leanna Crowley

 

Each of the seven Laamafaru festivals was run independently but saw similar activities which raised awareness of how incredible Laamu’s marine life is and why it is so important to protect. The educational activities which were planned by the resort team taught participants about marine protected areas- a timely subject as the Maldivian government is set to designate several marine protected areas in the atoll in the weeks to come. These activities included speeches, debates, and performances by students, teachers, principals, and local fishers. The kids battled it out in competitions including sand sculptures, plastic up-cycling and poster making. Many schools also organized clean-ups where students and community members collected any trash on local beaches or harbors, both helping their local environments and gaining an understanding of what a major issue of waste management is in the Maldives.

 

(c) Leanna Crowley

 

The spirit of the festival is a true testament as to why Laamu was declared as a Mission Blue Hope Spot last month. When reviewing Six Senses Laamu’s application for the Hope Spot, the international non-profit organization not only recognized the atoll’s significance for marine life, but also the significance of its community who are so passionate about protecting their natural resources. For the first time ever, the management of Laamafaru Festival was handed over to the community this year and is a perfect example of what Mission Blue noted. Not only did teachers, parents, and students across the atoll come together to organize this event, they also did it to an incredible standard ensuring that every participant, from three to seventy-three years old, walked away with a better understanding of the local marine life and how to protect it.

 

(c) Leanna Crowley

 

Laamafaru Festival is fully funded through Six Senses Laamu’s Sustainability Fund. This fund consists of 0.5% of total resort revenues, 50% of water sales, 100% of soft toy sales, and any guest donations. This fund is allocated towards projects that benefit local communities and ecosystems. Just by staying at Six Senses Laamu, guests financially contribute to the fund and therefore to initiatives like Laamafaru Festival.

About Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu is the first luxury resort in the Laamu Atoll. Deep in the Indian Ocean, it is surrounded by a beautiful coral house reef. Most of the villas and facilities are built within the lagoon; however, beach villas and on-land dining are also available. All villas offer a sense of privacy and seclusion, with an amazing view of the ocean and Maldivian nature. Six Senses Laamu offers a wide range of dining options and cuisine from around the world, an ice cream parlor, an overwater wine cellar, and a signature Chill bar. Many activities and excursions are available on land, in water, and underwater, in addition to the Six Senses Spa.

About the Maldives Underwater Initiative
The Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) is a multiple award-winning marine conservation initiatives based at Six Senses Laamu. MUI consists of staff from the resort, as well as its three partner NGOs: The Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, and The Olive Ridley Project, all of whom work together to reach research, guest education, and community outreach goals.

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