If you read our last blog you’ll recall that at the start of March Save Our Seas Foundation – Island School Seychelles put our new project assistant Fred Hypolite and volunteer weekend assistant Irma Dubois through their PADI Open Water Diver course. Since then, Fred and Irma have been putting their new diving skills in to practice with a scholarship at GVI (Global Vision International) Seychelles. For the past four weeks they have lived at the GVI base at Cap Ternay on Mahé with volunteers from all over the world. They have learnt about reef fish and conducted surveys at Baie Ternay Marine National Park. Here, Irma describes what participating in the GVI programme has meant to her.
“I, Irma Dubois, 19 years old, never saw myself where I am today. I remember cracking my head thinking how on earth am I going to afford an open water diving course, not having a job and not knowing if I was going to make it to university. Even so I needed to know how to dive, it didn’t always bother me, I knew I would eventually learn it one day, until someone asked me one day, ‘You don’t know how to dive do you? How can you become a marine biologist not knowing how to dive? You’d be the first’. Well that hurt me a lot, I felt sorry for myself.
And now it’s only been a few months since then and I already have my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certificate, and I’m learning about the different types of fish which is part of what I always wanted to do. There is actually a topic called threats to the reef and everything else in class related to the ocean I had been waiting for this moment all my life and here it is.
When Abi from Save Our Seas Foundation talked to me about GVI I was absolutely thrilled and I kept praying she would keep her word and everything would go smoothly. I impatiently waited and waited for that day until it finally came. I was a little bit worried about my diving skills as I had just completed my open water which was thankfully paid for by the Save Our Seas Foundation.
GVI is everything I expected it to be only better and I made friends which I didn’t think I would, when I’m here at GVI I don’t really think about home because I am constantly surrounded by good company and I could not wish for anything better. My dorm mates are all great to me, they are like this little temporary family, and I’m going to be very sad leaving them after.
Diving itself gets better every day, honestly I didn’t enjoy my first scuba experience which was a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Experience, and I was wondering how I was going to get through GVI disliking the sport, but I seriously don’t know what I was talking about as being underwater, cruising along the bottom, witnessing such wonders and not having to hold your breath, I feel like I’m a part of their community. One of the reason why I love the bat fish is that they are always interacting with you, I feel like I am being greeted, they would approach you and sometimes it’s like you’re not even here.
Plus I’m gaining a lot of new skills here, we did our Emergency First Responder course, learned how to operate a compressor, boat helping including how to make knots amongst lots of other things. At the moment I am learning to survey and hope I get signed off, I am also hoping to learn about the other groups: inverts and corals.
I am positive that GVI is going to make a huge and good difference for me in the end. So thank you everyone that made this possible for me. Even though I may not show it, I am very and will eternally be grateful.”
Thank you to the staff and volunteers at GVI Seychelles and their National Scholar Programme for providing Fred and Irma with a rewarding and enjoyable experience. The students at SOSF Island School Seychelles will benefit greatly from the knowledge they have both gained.
The National Scholarship Programme is free to any Seychellois aged 18 years or over with a background/interest in marine or terrestrial conservation and enables individuals to gain valuable practical experience in marine/terrestrial research monitoring techniques. To apply for GVI Seychelles’ Marine Conservation or Island Conservation Scholarship please send a CV, a statement of interest and a reference to firstname.lastname@example.org