Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Female Apprentice Snorkel Guide – AaaVeee

AaaVeee - snorkel guide

One of our favourite parts of visiting the Maldives over so many years and working on it so regularly with the website are the many friends we have made from this paradise. One of my motivations for all the work (and money) I put into Maldives Complete, is that I feel more like a participant and more a part of this wonderful place rather than just a here-today-gone-tomorrow spectator with a credit card. This year’s tour in particular was full of reunions with old friends. And we had the chance to meet other fascinating individuals during our travels.

People like Thoyyibaa Ahmed at AaaVee. She is the Maldives’ first female resort snorkel guide. Well, I should say “snorkel guide apprentice”. She is still learning the details under the auspices of the guruVa dive centre. But she inspired us with her enthusiasm for this iconic activity in her home country where many women historically haven’t even learned to swim in the past.

Those gender biases are shifting you are now seeing more and more women entering into the activity both for fun and professionally. Women like Zoona Naseem who became the first female PADI instructor (working out the Male suburb Villimale) and many more like her as demonstrated by the recent Women’s Day Dive which attracted record numbers.

Maldives Complete had the opportunity to sit down with Thoyyibaa to learn about her quest to share this aquatic scenery with all guests…

  • What is your name?Thoyyibaa Ahmed
  • What atoll are you from?Male
  • What got you interested in being a snorkel guide?The ocean is my love. I first tried to dive, but I had health problems that did not allow me to dive. So then I choose to look at snorkeling. My best friend was a snorkel guide, but had to stop when she had a baby. She recommended that I try it.
  • What languages do you speak?Dhivehi and English mainly, but I am learning Italian and German. I am studying all the fish names. The names are very important.
  • What is the favourite thing you see snorkeling?Turtles.
  • When did you start learning to swim?Three months ago. It is my new experience. The dive master is teaching me. The first time I went in the water, I was very scared. If I am tired or weak, I will use a life jacket for safety. I am really grateful to AaaVeee for giving me this opportunity to learn to become a snorkel guide.
  • What do your friends and family think of your job direction? – My mother is very surprised because this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this. All my family and friends are giving me their full support. I never give up. I keep trying. My mother is always asking questions about how it is going.
  • Who uses a snorkel guide? – Any guest really, but some guests come here alone and they need a buddy to accompany them.
  • Any advice for any other women interesting in snorkeling?Snorkeling is the best thing I have done. There is no reason to be scared. Women and girls who have not learned to swim should not be scared. You can do whatever you want. Don’t give up.

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Fashion Design – Kandolhu

Kandolhu - Funoas

Who puts the “fun” into “Funoas”? Kandolhu has introduced the “Funoas” range of swimwear which you can buy at the resort. Her designs based on the distinctive and colourful sea life of the Maldives are truly inspired. We caught up the Maldivian born Funoas designer Sumii Haleem for her first exclusive interview:

Q: Where are you from in the Maldives?
A: I was born and raised in Male’, Maldives. My mother is from Henveiru district and my father is from Maafannu district.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: I am currently living in Perth, Australia.

Q: What brought you there?
A: Education brought me here to Perth. Back then, when I finished high school, there were no universities in Maldives. Anyone who wanted to get a tertiary level education, had to go overseas. So my parents decided to move to Australia so my little sister and I could have a chance at a quality education. Ever since then I have been moving back and forth between Maldives and Australia.

Q: What inspired your career in art?
A: I have always been fascinated by nature and science and have always used art as a way of expressing this fascination. I also grew up around my aunt who was a seamstress. So it was a combination of curiosity and exposure to designing clothes, that started my career in art.

Q: What was the first piece you sold?
A: The first piece of artwork that I ever sold was in 2012, an abstract ink on paper drawing called “The City Never Sleeps”. It was on Society6 that I sold this print. I felt ecstatic, that someone had actually bought my artwork!

Q: How did you move into fashion?
A: Initially, I started printing my artwork on t-shirts, mugs, laptop and phone covers on Society6. I got a lot of positive response from friends and with their encouragement decided to start my own clothing line. At the time I started working on Funoas, I had also just started scuba diving and was blown away by the beauty and the vulnerability of our coral reefs. I wanted my brand to be an environmentally conscious one, so I could use clothing and fashion to create awareness about issues faced by Maldives, such as climate change, global warming and sea level rise.

Q: What’s your biggest selling item?
A: My best selling item is the Thaana printed clothes. Thaana is the unique writing system of Maldivian language, Dhivehi. I created this piece because I thought Dhivehi is a unique language spoken by a minority of world’s people and the scripture is also visually so unique and eye catching. So I think this print is very sentimental to Maldivians, especially those that live away from home, like myself.

Q: Who are your favourite designers?
A: My art is influenced by people from different walks of life, nature and scientific concepts so it is difficult to narrow it down to only designers. Some of the people that influence my work include Ashish Gupta, Adam Manik, Hassan Manik, Aishath Shafeeg, Moosa Mamdhuh, Ahmed Shafeeg, Maya Arulpragasam, Karl Lagerfeld, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Nicola Tesla, David Attenborough,Fibonacci, Neil Degrassi Tyson, Scuba divers and all underwater photographers, just to name a few.

Q: If someone gave you $1 million to invest in your business, what would you invest it in?
A: If I had a million dollars I would invest it on building Funoas to become an internationally recognised brand that creates quality clothing, 100% ethically and eco-consciously. I would concentrate on creating our products solely from recycled polyester, which is something I am currently looking into for my future collections. Once Funoas is a well established clothing brand, I would love to be able to work with local Maldivian environmentalists, marine researchers and climate change advocates to study more about our own marine ecosystems and bring a positive change to Maldives’ growing environmental crises. I believe this is a social responsibility.

Funoas suit
Manta crop-top

Funoas suit 2
Nudibranch two-piece

Funoas suit 3
Oriental sweet lips

Funoas suit 4
Thaana printed swim shorts

Best of the Maldives: Female GM – Summer Island

Summer Island - GM

America didn’t quite go for its only female chief executive, but in a land known more for its glass floors, Mariya Shareef is breaking a few glass ceilings with her appointment as General Manager of Summer Island – the only female GM in the Maldives at present. Maldives Complete had a chance to catch up with her for an exclusive interview about her career and views on tourism in her country…

  • What was your first ever job?
    The first job I ever had was helping a friend’s mom sell school uniform badges just before the school season started – I must have been around 14 – 15 years old. As a reward for this work, we were treated to a nice meal. I took it seriously, I was always there, punctual, and I memorised the prices of all the badges. I worked alongside a friend, who remains close to me now, and we would sit and chat as we waited for clients. It was such fun!
  • What was your first job in hospitality?
    I worked in Bandos island resort as a pastry assistant. I always thought I would become a pastry chef someday, but my career has taken me into management.
  • What has been your favourite sighting on the Summer Island house reef?
    The little ‘Nemo’ clown fish and anemones near the jetty. It is the first thing you see when you arrive on the island. I never tire of looking at them – they are such pretty little ones.
  • What has been an idea (eg new dish, a new activity, a new offer) that completely failed?
    I wish I could remember a specific idea or incident. Of course, I have failed at things. Lots of ideas have been rejected, and there has always been things I wanted to do but couldn’t, or that I started and stopped midway through. Failure, I think, goes hand in hand with success. If you never make any mistakes, it probably means you are too risk averse. As long as you always learn from your mistakes, it’s an important part of growing and developing.
  • How have the guests changed over your career?
    I think the clientele who holiday in the Maldives haven’t changed that much over the years. The country still has a well-preserved image as the perfect honeymoon or romantic destination. Probably, the honeymooners have overtaken the divers now, who were the first group who started coming when tourism first began. Nowadays, we also have new groups visiting such as surfers. The market keeps expanding, especially with the introduction of new tourism offers such as guesthouses on local islands, as well as cruises and safari boats that cater to surfers. There are also more family orientated resorts. I would say the country is more open now for different segments of guests and we are better able to cater to different needs, different age groups, activities and nationalities. But the honeymoon image is still the one for which the Maldives is world famous.
  • How have the management challenges changed over your career?
    Management style differs from company to company. I have always been happy where ever I worked and have been quite blessed with good bosses. I had the privilege of working with foreign and local management. I believe things will change, and the new generation needs to bring change. I believe locally managed companies are changing for the better. As one of the only Maldivian women to hold the post of resort manager, I hope to be a good example of such change. I am not only happy for myself, but for the positive change the company has brought – it is very motivating.
  • What is your favourite dish served at Summer Island restaurants?
    I love food, so everything I eat is always good! The best food I had in Summer Island was a very yummy prawn curry. And I shouldn’t forget the satay in the snack menu, which we also sometime have on the buffet – it’s so good!
  • If you had $1 million to add one single feature to Summer Island, what would it be?
    With $1 million I would do lots small things, predominantly to the staff areas. I would redo the football pitch with astro-turf, pave the badminton court, add one more floor to the staff lounge and bring in more snooker tables, table tennis tables, and other sports; do up the cafeteria nicely, add lots of cozy areas for staff to lounge and mingle. A Million Dollars will also go along way to “comp” offer complementary experiences.
  • What’s one question I didn’t ask that you either wish I asked or were surprised that I didn’t ask (and what the answer)?
    Maybe, ‘how does it feel to be in this position now?’ and my answer would be, it feels like I am finally home. I was and have always been in love with this beautiful island and its people, including the management and the owners. They are such wonderful people. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming – but in a very happy way. And today, when I think about all these questions, and everyone talking about me; being in the media and all that, I have never felt anything different from my people here at ‘home’. I started this new job with huge responsibilities on my shoulders but when I saw the smiles on everyone’s faces, I knew I had the support of my colleagues. I have been in this new job for about 20 days now but I know that I’m not alone and that is a great feeling. I never feel I am being treated differently because I am a woman, or because I’m young… this place simply makes me feel like I am home.

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Archaeologist – Shiura Jaufar

Shiura Jaufar archeologist
Jaufar (right) working in Male’ Sultan Park with Dr. Christie

Today the Maldives is a billionaire’s playground that attracts those with money from around the world. But in the earliest days of the world’s history, the Maldives might very well have been the source of money itself.

That is one of the areas being researched by Anne Haour and her archaeological team out of the University of East Anglia. The project will be going into 2018 and I will be covering parts of it here as they become available (you can also follow Haour’s own blog “Crossroad of Empires”.

Included in Haour’s literally ground-breaking work, is one of her team members, Shiura Jaufar, who is the Maldives’ ploughing new ground as the country’s first archaeologist. In another exclusive interview, Maldives Complete caught up with Jaufar to do a bit of its own digging into her world of ancient mysteries

1. How did you get interested in archaeology?
I have always wanted to become an archaeologist since the age of 9 upon discovering an article about an archaeological discovery in the local newspaper. Back then (and even now) people often used to ask kids about their ambition when they grow up and nothing else interested me until I saw this certain article. It astounded me to find out that there was a job where you could actually dig and discover things that dated back to thousands and millions of years. I guess I found out it too interesting and exciting to pursue another career.

2. What is your current research project?
Currently I am doing a PhD studentship in the University of East Anglia where I look at the pottery found in Maldives. For this, I have carried out archaeological test excavations in different regions of Maldives with the help of my supervisor Dr. Anne Haour and Post-doctorate researcher Dr. Annalisa Christie and yielded thousands of potsherds in order to better understand the role the Maldives played in the ancient Indian Ocean trade network. Maldives played a pivotal role in this trade system and pottery becomes a rather important element here since it is not known of any production centers in Maldives for pottery and so it is assumed that all pots were imported from neighboring countries such as India and Sri Lanka as well as China. My key focus will be to study these pots to produce a typology among various other information that can be used to better understand the nature of this important trade network.

3. Where did the ancient pots come from?
From what I have researched, there are no mention and no visible traces of pottery production in Maldives and so until proven otherwise, the current assumption is that the ancient Maldivians did not make pots but imported them adding to this the absence of clay in Maldives. It is said that Maldives imported a lot of glazed ware from China, as well as vessels (both glazed and unglazed) from the neighboring countries possibly India and Sri Lanka. This is also part of my current thesis to find similar comparisons within the South Asian region.

4. What was your most exciting find in a dig?
I am very much addicted to pots, especially intact whole pots considering we usually find broken shards and rarely a complete one. Therefore, the most exciting find in a dig for me so far would have to be the two intact and complete pots me and my team discovered while digging a Late period (664-332 BC) site in Egypt.

5. What is the most difficult part of your work?
Honestly, becoming an archaeologist itself has been a huge challenge itself considering this is a very new discipline in the Maldives and also since I am a woman. I guess the most difficult part of being an archaeologist is that there’s very limited scope for this field in the Maldives. The opportunities are scarce in all aspects of the field like lack of financial support, lack of awareness among locals, lack of expertise etc.

6. What antiquity in the world would you most like to go visit?
I am a huge follower of Egyptology and so I have always dreamt of visiting the Egyptian pyramids, their elaborate tombs and the mummies. Alhamdhulillah, I was blessed to see them not so long ago 🙂 I would also love to visit the ruins at Petra in Jordan and the South American sites such as the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico and the Incan site of Machu Picchu in Peru.

7. What is the most unusual or curious fact you know about the ancient history of the Maldives?
I find it rather intriguing to know that not only we have archaeology underground but underwater as well, i.e. shipwrecks and such. I think our underwater sites have as much potential for the better understanding of the Maldivian archaeology and heritage. There are ships under our waters from various parts of the world with various different goods and stories buried along with them and what strikes me most is that no archaeological or heritage related work has been done on these sites yet.

Jaufar travelling with her planning frame used for doing plan drawings of the site.
Shiura Jaufar archeologist travelling

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Female DJ – Angie

Amilla Fushi - Angie DJ

Another way to get the evening rockin’ is a bit of lively (or soothing) music. Many of the resorts will offer DJs who can provide a personal touch to the playlist. They often read the crowd and adapt the music they play based on how people are responding and the vibe. One of the top DJs in the Maldives is Aminath Fazleena Abbas. While some resorts jet in DJs from around the world, “Angie” (as she has been classed since a young age) hails from her hometown of Male. She might just be the top female DJ in the Maldives (DJing has been a bit of a male dominated domain as only 2 of DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ acts are women. And curiously, both acts are duos). Maldives Complete caught up with Angie for an exclusive interview into the world of bopping in paradise….

1. How did you get interested in DJing?
I have always had interest in music and dancing, during my studies abroad i used to watch a lot of DJs perform and get fascinated by how they controlled the crowd through music. The thought crossed my mind through observation i would say.

2. What was your first gig?
My first gig was held in Kuda Bandos island for a crowd of around 200 people.

3. Where was your first resort gig?
Dusit Thani Resort for New year 2013

4. What was your biggest gig?
‘Cupid’ event held in Buba Restaurant and beach club Sri Lanka for a crowd of 2500.

5. What advice would you give to other Maldivians interested in DJing?
If you have passion for DJing, Learn, Practice and work towards it.. With effort you can yield big results in any walk of life.

6. What’s the hardest part about a DJ gig?
Interruptions during performance and trying to please crowd of various tastes.

7. Which big name DJs do you admire?
Chemical brothers, Nina kraviz, four tet..

8. What other resorts have you performed at?
Velaa, Taj Exotica, Anantara Digu, Anantara Naladu, Amilla Fushi, Como Maalifushi, One and only Reethi Rah, Soneva Fushi, Sun Island, Cinnamon Dhonveli , Fihalhohi , Cinammon Hakuraa

8. Do the resorts differ in terms of what sort of music/performance they are looking for?
There is just a handful of resort where i could play genres i want. Usually resort either prefers commercial dance music or chill-out, deep house genres. I have noticed that most high end resorts prefer the latter.

9. What is your personal favourite dance song?
Challenging question as there are too many songs i love.. These are few I am into these days:

  • Daniel Portman – The reason
  • Peniciline – Alberto Feria alvaro
  • Droplex – Dance

10. What is your go-to song to get people dancing?
Deorro, TJR, Bassjackers

11. What are your 3 most requested songs?
Commercial dance music artists like Pitbull, Rhanna, Nicki Minaj

12. What are your 3 favourite romantic songs (for those honeymooners)?

  • Disclosure by Latch
  • Praise You by Fatboy Slim (Maribou remix)
  • Stolen Dance by Milky Chance.

13. What are your 3 favourite “chill out” songs (reflecting the soothing vibe of the Maldives)?

  • Bungalow by Boy Tedson
  • 65 percent by Kaya Project
  • Stuck in a dream by Soulavenue

Amilla Fushi - Angie DJ 2

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Beauty – Coco Bodu Hithi

Coco Bodu Hithi - Raudha Aathif - advert

Athif Raudha is literally the face of the Maldives. She displays the classic sun-kissed, delicate features of the Maldivians, except for one extremely striking exception. While most Maldivians have dark brown eyes, hers are an iridescent blue more like the cerulean sea that surrounds the country. Even her Facebook handle is “Wild Blue Lustre

Her captivating look has drawn her into modelling for a number of years now including Coco Bodu Hithi’s recent campaign (see above). She is also a favourite subject of artistic fashion photographer Alexey Vladimir (in fact, her red hooded portrait featured in yesterdays Christmas Red post is Alexey’s Facebook Profile picture).

Raudha agreed to do a first-ever, exclusive interview with Maldives Complete to share some insights into this intriguing poster child for Maldivian beauty (thanks Paola)…

  • How were you “discovered”, ie. how did you get started?

It was always a hobby, because I grew up posing for pictures. But it wasn’t until I did a few shoots with Sotti (a professional photographer) that things really kicked off. I started getting offers for ads, and I always had people advise me not to take any of them until something good came up. And that worked out quite well.

  • What was your first modelling gig?

If I remember correctly, it was something like a PSA, for national TV, encouraging people to stop using plastic bags, and choose eco-friendly stuff. I was 14 years old, and quite the environmentalist, so, naturally very happy to be a part of it.

  • Do you have an agent?

I don’t. Anyone’s free to contact me directly, regarding any business.

  • Where did you get your distinctive eyes from (do other members of your parents families have similar eyes)?

My paternal grandfather, his eyes were a sort of dark hazel. And my beautiful great grandmother had a greyish blue.

  • What types of work would you like to do in the future?

Contrary to popular belief, modelling isn’t all I want to do with my life. I’d like to work as a doctor, in many places all over the world. I’m leaving to Bangladesh to study for a Bachelor s of Medicine next month. And that, becoming a doctor, has been my dream, and primary interest, since I was 5, maybe.

  • Is there a model whose look/work you most admire?

I can’t possibly name just one. Adriana Lima, Cara Delevingne, Angelina Jolie. And I can never leave out Deepika Padukone. These women are beautiful, inspiring, and I love them for the things they stand for.

  • What’s been your most lucrative modelling gig?

That would definitely be working for Sotti in his “Maldives” series.

  • What’s been your most enjoyable modelling gig?

A collaboration shoot with Alexey Vladimir, where I got the chance to entertain my inner daredevil. I had to make my way to the middle of the reef. Beyond an area called Usfasgandu in Male’ where there’s a destroyed, unused platform-like bit covered with seaweedy things. Between land and the platform, we had steep, slippery tetrahedral rocks to climb down, then the reef, with more rocks and sharp corals. Strong waves too, because it was a rainy day. Had I slipped or fallen over, or lost my balance with an incoming or outgoing wave, my face would be in coral hell. And then I didn’t fall. And it was all done with me in a full length dress. I LOVED it. The result was a beautiful picture titled “The Night”. Everyone lived happily ever after.

  • Are any particular pressures you face doing modelling?

Well, before a shoot, there’s almost always pressure. A weird, unspecific kind. Ha ha. I suppose it’s natural, wanting to do well, feeling nervous for how it’s going to turn out. But once it starts, it’s always fun and an amazing experience. I’ve been lucky to work with great people.

  • Any pet peeves when you are working modelling?

I think the only thing would be, when people fail to communicate very well. Maybe my friends think otherwise, and I don’t express this very often. But, I actually have very little tolerance for rude or bossy people.

  • What are your favourite pastimes?

Modelling IS a pastime for me! Ha ha. Okay seriously though? I have phases. All in all, I love learning new things. And a lot of that happened while I worked at the military hospital and then IGMH, for a year and a half.

Besides that, I’ve also had my time with yoga, painting, dancing. At school in India, I played the congas – that was fun. And also failed quite terribly at singing. When I want to laze around, there’s always a good book to get lost in. Most recently, I’ve taken up open water diving and trying to play the piano. New things are excitingly endless, you know.

Coco Bodu Hithi - Raudha Aathif portrait

Best of the Maldives: Boat Captain – Kurumba

Kurumba - boat captain

International Women’s Day today celebrates the inspirational achievements of women around the world. One such woman is Aishath Rizuna “Rizu”, the Maldive’s first female boat captain trained and appointed by Kurumba

Rizu herself comes from a line of strong and active women. Her mother and grandmother are very practical and very sporty. Her mother fixes electrical issues and out swam all the boys while her grandmother still climbs trees…

“From her background, Rizu was born and raised in Funadhoo, Shariyani Atoll. Her father is a fisherman so Rizu has sweet memories about the time when her father taught her how to swim, snorkel and fish in a traditional Dhoni boat. At the very young age of four, Rizu’s father taught her how to drive a small boat, and by the time she was a teenager she was selling small boats in the lagoon of Funadhoo. Rizu’s father (Mohamed Nazim) curiously also worked in Kurumba at a young age thirty years ago and has been a great support to Rizu’s evolving career. We are delighted with the support of our twelve male Captains, who certainly gave her all the necessary help needed for her practical training as well as her theory course. Rizu is still developing her skills and knowledge of the Maldivian oceans, which will take some time. Whilst she will continue her role as Majaa Recreation Supervisor, these additional skills can be used in the future from time to time when guests are looking for a female crew.”

Maldives Complete had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Rizu. Special thanks to good friend and fellow blogger Eileen Brown who helped with the questions. Eileen herself was the first female to be employed as a Deck Cadet in shell Tankers (UK) Ltd and is currently one of the leading promoters of women in the UK technology sector

  • What is the best aspect of your job? – It’s always been a dream to travel around, being a boat captain allows me to fulfil my dream and that’s the most enjoyable part in my job.
  • What were your biggest challenges as you trained to become a boat captain? – The biggest challenge I had was that every single part in the boats were so new to me. I felt like I was back in school, where I had to learn everything from A to Z, but with the help of all the people around me I overcame all challenges and I am so thankful to everyone.
  • Were there any physical obstacles that you needed to overcome? – I would say it’s more mental challenges that I had to overcome more than physical ones.
  • Did your lack of physical strength hinder you much? – The thought “I am a woman and I can’t do that” never even crossed my mind and most importantly everyone around me never tried to put it in my head either.
  • What were the attitudes of your classmates as you progressed through your training? – Very helpful and positive comments from the start, from the moment I told them that I am going to take the training as a boat captain. These comments pushed me forward and it’s always great to know how much people appreciate your hard work.
  • Did you have anyone that championed and supported you? If so, was it a big advantage? – Honestly and to be fair I have to say everyone, but I am particularly thankful for the support of my Family, the Kurumba Management team including our Fleet Manager Mohamed Shameem and the whole Kurumba team for being with me.
  • Did you encounter anyone that was very against you progressing in your career? – No! Only positive feedback.
  • Now you are a captain, what are your plans to encourage other women to follow your path? – Well, it’s a choice. This opportunity came to my doorstep, why would I wait? My dream is waiting out there. There’s always one thing I would like to say now and I will always say it: “follow your dream until you reach it, never give up and take your chances”.
  • What next for you in your career after your captain job? – It’s a bit too early to decide anything right now. I am enjoying driving the boats around and working towards my dream, which is visiting each and every island in the country.

Aye, aye, Kurumba!

#PaintItPurple

 

Kurumba - Rizu childhood

Best of the Maldives: Vocalist – Kurumba

Kurumba - Miro Solo

The Brit Awards last night celebrated the top musical acts in the UK, and if there were a “Mald” awards, a leading nominee would be one of the budding musical stars of Maldives is Mira Mohamed. We saw her at Bandos during our stay. Unlike the typical background music pervading the sparsely attended night-time lounges, she stopped me in my tracks as I was rushing to a meeting with the deputy resort manager. A classy and talented performer, she brings a very personal flavour to her song renditions. She has toured a number of resorts, but Kurumba is featuring her as a regular headliner.

Cool Women

Cool Women

Happy Mothers Day!

Mothers Day is celebrated on whole range of days in different countries around the world, but it is celebrated on the ‘India Sub-Continent’ today (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka). The holiday has roots in the Roman festival of Hilaria where the ‘Earth Goddess’ was celebrated on the final day of the vernal equinox festival (spring finally sprung!).

It is also celebrated in the USA today where my own mother lives. The ‘traditional’ American ritual includes breakfasts in bed, homemade cards and a break from traditional chores as children (and husbands) try to chip to give Mom a break for one 24 hour period.

It seemed appropriate to post on ‘Cool Women’, which was created for International Women’s Day earlier this year, on this more traditional day of honouring women. My mother, Marjorie Lynn, is also a ‘Cool Woman’ in very much the spirit of the video. She ran a YWCA which provided support programmes for women including a women’s shelter and a number of outreach and community initiatives. Mom has always been a rather outspoken activist for well-being and capabilities of women with all the strength of Aemii Musko’s wave (see above).