Turtles in crystal waters, zombies on drugs and thank God for heroin
This post is about giving back to skateboarding and the idea that a plank of wood can change lives. It's about not taking your board for granted and a labour of love and passion. We are stoked that our crew got invited to the Maldives for building à skatepark for the locals on one of their islands. The Vaadhoo Island is one of the largest islands in the country while also being one of the least developed in the country and the decisions were made by the island council which is currently making a transition into a more youth oriented panel. They are having elections this year and the candidates are stoked on the skatepark which is going to give the kids here something to do other getting into trouble. This island like many other of the islands in the Maldives which are not converted into resorts has a serious drug problem and I can see why that is. I mean I have been on the island for two weeks now and it's a far cry from the capital (Malé) with very few opportunities for the kids. Most of the kids surf when the waves are good or they go fishing which is great. The skatepark will add another facet to their lives and another outlet for their energies. With all the stuff going on in our big cities it’s easy to take skateboarding for granted. I mean without skateboarding we would still find things to do. On an island like this there really is nothing to do and I can see myself going down that hole if I was stuck here for more than a few months.
The country seems to be quite rich when compared to India where I am from. Everything costs three times how much it costs back home . The kids go to school but from what I learnt the teachers aren't really able to get through to them as these kids can just make a lot of money by working on a fishing boat for a couple of days in a week. So they arent really interested in learning . Maybe a no school no skate policy may work here.
Material wise everything from sand, aggregate, cement, wood had to be brought into the island in a boat. Since aggregate was scarce we also used old dead coral in the mix to reduce our aggregate usage ( this was a first for me but apparently the locals use it to mix in their concrete traditionally). The backfill for the ramps had to be got from all over the island by demolition of old houses which were either falling apart or were just left half built. We literally threw everything we could find into the backfill including a whole variety of household appliances like a few refrigerators and a bunch of washing machines which were found in the trash.
With this as the backdrop there are just four of us from India on this construction and we were told we would have 50 volunteers to help build the park. Turned out there is a guy named 50 who had volunteered. Also the month of Ramadan started while we were not even started with the build making it impossible to work in the day and reducing our volunteer work force further. So two weeks turned into a month of 15 hour nights but we got it done with the help of 50 and Chico (the two volunteers from the island) and their army of “zombies”.
A zombie is a heroin junky who walks around with his head down unless he has got his recharge (heroin). The junkies were the only ones who had any motivation to work because they were given their doses of recharges in return for their labours. If it wasn't for heroin this small build would have taken till Christmas. With the zombies on the mixer and 50,Chico at the reigns we started pumping out 3-5 cubic metres every night. At the end of the month we were finally done with the park and done physically. Through all the hardships I complained a lot but the end result made it all worth it. The kids already natural on skateboards because they were all surfers used to gnarly waves started to skate the park immediately and shouts and excitement could be heard all along the jetty. Skate on little Bros and stay off the recharge, I hope skateboarding does for you what it did for me and gives you real purpose in your lives.