MR. ABDULLAH RASHEED Regional Director, Asia Pacific Region World Organization of the Scout Movement
“Ask yourself what you can do for the association and for the movement and not blame others for what has not been done” says Mr. Abdulla Rasheed, currently the Regional Director for Asia Pacific Region of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.
For those of you who may not know him (highly doubt it), he also happens to have been the 2ndChief Commissioner after the formation of the Maldives Boy Scout Association in 1984. He came to office after the death of Honorable Ahmed Shathir in 1994 and remained in office till 1997.
He also had served as the Deputy Minister of Finance, as the Election Commissioner and also worked with the United Nations in various projects in Maldives.
As Maldives celebrates 53 years of Scouting it is important for scouts of Maldives to learn more about the pioneers of Scouting in the country. Mr. Rasheed will be remembered in Maldivian Scouting history as an energetic hard working Scouter who worked alongside those determined leaders to spread scouting in the country and for making it possible for scouting to exist even today in Maldives.
He had inspired a lot of Maldivian Scouters, Scout leaders and Scouts and earned respect and love. He is the very first Scouter from the Maldives to fill a job at the World Scout Bureau. He had also worked in the Asia Pacific Regional Program Committee as the Chairman for the term 1995-1998.
We truly are proud to have him out there at regional service. Mr. Rasheed has earned the trust and support from many National Scout Associations in the region as well as at world level. And yet continues to be one of the most prominent professional scouters in the region.
As a result of the hard work and dedicated service to the region and scouting as a whole in running the largest region in term of membership with over 25.03 million scouts, he has been awarded numerous regional and international awards from different National Scout Organizations.
Mr. Rasheed also known as “Seedhibe” among the Scouts in Maldives, played an important role in forming and registering the Scout Association of Maldives (then called as the Maldives Boys Scout Association) as well as in making the association a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. He recalls the memories and explains more details in an interview we managed to get from him.
1. SOM: How long have you been involved with the Scouts, when did you join the movement and what made you join it? RASHEED: “I have been involved in the movement since late 1960’s, first as a sea scout at Majeediyya and was part of the first ever over seas scout trip from Maldives to Sri Lankan moot in 1969. I had a break after school when I was abroad for studies. Coming back to Maldives in 1979; worked as one of the pioneers to register the national scout association in 1981 at the Ministry of Home Affairs. Had been in the national scout council in various positions and became the Chief Commissioner in 1994 till 1997 and continued as a Council member until I left Maldives in 2002”
“I joined scouting in school because every one had to do one activity in school those days and I do not like cadet marching and I do not like band because I had little liking for music”
2. SOM: Is there any Scouter who you admire or inspire, who and why? RASHEED: “Many and hard to figure out a single one”
3. SOM:What is your most extraordinary or remarkable scouting experience? RASHEED: “There are many and will highlight a few here.
Home ministry did not agree to register the association until we find two Founder members (Masooluverin) as the law states. Had a very difficult time to convince the Minister then, (Abdullah Jameel) that scouting is non governmental and it is perpetual and the responsible body will be the Council and not 1-2 persons as individuals. Finally he agreed and SAM was registered. The same day the Girl Guide Association was registered and we worked together for the registration.
Holding of the very first official Basic Course under SAM followed by few others and then finally the First ever Wood badge Course and to award the First Wood badge beads to the few Maldivian scouters.
Holding of the First National Jamboree in 1986 and challenge from World scout Bureau indicating that until we are a member of WOSM we cannot hold a national jamboree. We fought for it and went ahead and even got a formal message from then the Secretary General of WOSM late Mr. Lesley Nagy. The Jamboree souvenir was printed with his message and President declared it open at Kuda Bandos
WOSM application was not forwarded by then Regional Director Del Sylvester on the ground that he did not like the SAM logo with the tuna fish and the ten laws in the scout promise. He asked me to change the logo and without the fish and also to change the ten laws as eleven or nine. Which I argued was not acceptable to us until and unless he can convince with logical and conceptual reasoning, which he could not.
“The application after 2 years of pending at Regional office, I was fortunate to meet a world scout committee member then Hartmut Keyler who agreed to take up the matter directly with then Secretary General Jacques Moreilleon based on the formal letter of explanation given. It worked and the application was a direct submission to the world scout committee by passing the regional office and Del Sylvester was made answerable to the delay. The logo and the ten scout laws remained as we had proposed and WSC approved the member ship and in 1990 world scout conference in Paris Maldives became a full member.”
In 1995 at the Singapore Conference I was appointed as the Chairman of the APR Program Sub Committee for the period 1995-1998 just out of the bloom and was a biggest surprise till then.However during the term, I conducted the first APR event in Maldives Giravaru in 1998 and for the first time the Regional Scout Committee Chairman Felix Lee visited Maldives.
I was prompted to apply for the Regional Scout Committee membership in 1998 following the usual regional practice where by all recent past APR Program Sub Committee chairman’s was subsequently elected to the RSC and I was made to understand that everyone in the region will support my application. I prepared the application to submit my nomination but it was not endorsed by the Scout Council then on the ground that I did not hold a wood badge. So my application was not submitted since it is a requirement to NSO endorsement. Alternatively another name was endorsed SAM as a candidate to the regional scout committee at the 1998 Hong Kong conference but Maldives was not elected. On that same understanding of the majority of the Council members, that all Chief Commissioners must be wood badge holders, the SAM constitution was revised and was submitted to the world scout committee in 2002. However, that argument was not accepted by the WSC and SAM was asked to change the draft constitution including many other changes.
I never dreamt, intended or planned to apply for the position at the regional office. During the application period open to the entire region, I was hinted by a couple of leaders within the region and from the Bureau to apply and finally convinced me that I can handle it and I will get through the appointment process. This application does not require the endorsement of the national association but I did inform SAM officially after I made the application. I was short listed among the five and had the interview in Delhi during the regional conference. The appointment was confirmed after the regional scout committee meeting endorsed the recommendation in February 2002 meeting held in Hong Kong.
At the regional office my first challenge was to re-establish in myself, the same type confidence people had developed by then for my predecessor Kim Kyu Young and at the same token to make myself accepted to the whole region which is vast in size, development, in leadership, and in experience in the field of scouting as compared to some coming from a tiny small country not much heard within the region and a country very late to develop scouting. However, I was committed to prove myself and I believe I have been accepted and trusted by the region over the years.
Having accepted the post I have made up my mind very early for a very specific period to stay on that is why even after much persuasion from many colleagues I did not agree to extend my initial contract of 6 years for another 5 years but agree to accept only for another 2 years to end in June 2010. My retirement in June 2010 was announced in the plenary by the Secretary General Luc Panissod, on the first day of the Malaysia conference in 2009 October. However, during the course of the conference, the regional committee met and unanimously requested me to reconsider my decision for another 3 years. Based on which I agreed last December to extend for another 3 years until June 2013 and this was also accepted by the Secretary General.”
4. SOM:In your opinion, being a former Chief Commissioner of the Scout Association of Maldives, what do you think are the immediate works that are necessary to be carried out in Maldives to improve Scouting?
RASHED: “Need a small group of dedicated volunteers who can devote some time every day for the work of the association. There are no full time people in the association and it cannot afford so far. Hence for the love of scouting, few dedicated leaders will have to devote some time every day and this should be shown by practice so that others will follow soon. Few people had worked in the early days in the same manner, almost every day after office hours, for over 10-15 years and to me this is the only practical solution.”
5. SOM: Do you think that Scouting in Maldives has developed in the past few years or had it been the same in terms of quality and standard? RASHEED: “The answer is yes and no and it is also difficult to comment on quality and standard without deep review of certain aspects of scouting”
6. SOM:What are your expectations for Maldivian scouting? RASHEED: “To be alive and progressing since to me the scope is there and the sky is the limit”
7. SOM: After your term in the regional office is over what is next? RASHEED: “I will return to Maldives”
8. SOM: Do you intend, or plan to return back to Maldivian Scouting and work with the Scout Association of Maldives? RASHEED: “Yes, if there is a feeling and acceptance that I can still contribute in some way or other but do not intend to hold any key position”
9. SOM: What is your advice to all the members of the Scout Movement in Maldives? RASHEED: “Ask yourself what you can do for the association and for the movement and not blame others for what has not been done.”
10. SOM:Which is the most memorable Scout camp/Jamboree and event so far in your Scouting carrier? RASHEED: The one held in Hulhule’ in late 1960’s where a whole coconut tree was put on fire with huge flames in the midst of a many other trees by accident in trying to have a very innovative lighting of the camp fire. At the end it was a gibber camp fire light than ever thought since the whole tree had to be cut down without fire getting caught to any other tree.
11. SOM:Is there anyone in particular in Maldives whom you admire as Scouters, If so who? RASHEED: There are and among the handful of people, Ahmed Zaki, Ahmed Shathir, Ahmed Imad would definitely be worth.
Photos:Scouter Ahmed Imad Mohamed, APR Staff gallery APR/WOSM site.Article, Information and Interviewed by :Maeed M. Zahir and Mohamed Ibrahim (MI)
*NOTE: Scouter of the Month, will be a Series of Interviews we plan to bring YOU our website viewers every month. We will bring to you information about a selected prominent Scouter of Maldives with his/her interview.