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Launch of book highlighting alumni impact in Maldives

Posted: 15 September 2023

Maldives, Alumni, Impact,

On 10 August 2023, the Australian High Commissioner to the Republic of Maldives, HE Mr David Jessup, hosted a reception to launch the book A Celebration of Alumni Impact in South Asia. The book combines striking imagery and stories from more than 40 Australia Awards alumni from the region, including seven from Maldives.

Speaking at the event, High Commissioner Jessup expressed his delight to launch the coffee table book as Australia’s first resident High Commissioner to the Republic of Maldives. He noted that the book, with its stories of alumni who have contributed significantly to the development of Maldives, stands as a testament to the long-standing cooperation between Australia and Maldives in the education sector.

In the book, the alumni speak passionately about their Australia Awards experience and how it has shaped their lives and contribution to their countries’ development. They highlight how they gained substantial technical knowledge during their studies in Australia, as well as expertise in advocacy, project management and communication, which they are now putting into practice. The alumni also refer to the long-term networks they established with the support of the Australian Government and alumni engagement initiatives such as small grants and alumni workshops.

The following Australia Awards Scholarship recipients are amongst those featured in the book:

  • Ms Shaana Farooq undertook a Master of Construction Law at the University of Melbourne in 2012. As a leading woman in the Maldives’ construction industry, Shaana is not only repudiating gender norms but also leading on pioneering construction projects contributing to and influencing her country’s development.

High Commissioner Jessup presenting the book to alumna Shaana Farooq.

  • Ms Haawa Leesha used her experience in Australia to establish a women’s centre providing a range of services for children and mothers with fellow Australia Awards alumna Zuneena Habeeb. Leesha completed a Master of Counselling at Monash University in 2013.
  • Ms Mariyam Rifga undertook a Master of Science (Protected Area Management) at James Cook University in 2017. Rifga credits her time in Australia with helping her build strong connections relevant to her career goals, including with fellow alumni and experts in her field.

Alumna Mariyam Rifga receiving the book from High Commissioner Jessup.

  • Ms Mariyam Shifana completed a Master of Education (Leadership and Management) at Flinders University in 2014. On her return to Maldives, Shifana has held several leadership positions in the education sector and considers her development of a vocational aquaculture teaching program for lower secondary school students to be one of her biggest achievements.
  • Dr Abdul Hannan Waheed has made significant contributions to higher education quality assurance in his role at the Maldives Qualification Authority and credits his educational experience in Australia as having influenced many of his achievements in education and journalism. He completed a PhD in Education (Higher Education Quality Assurance) at the Queensland University of Technology in 2010.
  • Ms Fathimath Sauna undertook a Master of Education (Special Education) at Flinders University.  As a result of the linkages Sauna cultivated from her Australia Awards experience, she has contributed significantly towards creating a more inclusive environment for children with special needs, particularly especially in Addu.
  • Dr Ahmed Adham Abdulla implemented transformative solutions at his workplaces, most recently as Vice Chairman of the Maldives Human Rights Commission. Adham obtained a PhD in Law (International Law) at the University of Wollongong.

Alumnae Hawwa Leesha (centre, holding the book) and Mariyam Shifana (right) at the book launch.

High Commissioner Jessup acknowledged these and other Awards alumni as influencers, innovators, leaders, and friends of Australia, who play a crucial role in promoting Australia’s commitment to bilateral cooperation through their outstanding contributions to Maldives.

The event was attended by Dr Abdulla Mausoom, Minister of Tourism, Australia Awards alumni and other distinguished guests. It also included a cultural performance of Maafathi dance from the Student Union of the Maldives National University.

An excerpt from the book featuring Dr Abdul Hannan Waheed