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Mumtaz's story: empowering the community after the tsunami

Smiley face of Mumthaz Ibrahim © InfoCommunity participation is an essential part of the British Red Cross' work in the Maldives.

As president of the partner representative steering committee, Mumthaz Ibrahim's job was to encourage the community on Madifushi island to take the lead on the work of the British Red Cross.

“I wanted to work with the British Red Cross because I knew that it worked in disaster relief to help vulnerable people,” he said. “Even from the first day of the tsunami I worked for the community.”

Madifushi island was one of the worst affected islands in the Maldives, where 80 per cent of the buildings were destroyed and one person died. When the wave hit, Mumthaz was just putting the finishing touches on a brand new house – one of those ruined by the tsunami. He survived by running from the wave and grabbing a rope from a swing on a tree.

“I saw house after house collapse and I saw people being tossed around in the water like dolls,” he said grimly.


Almost immediately, once the water had subsided, he worked with island officials to find out if anyone was missing and sent boats to nearby uninhabited islands to collect people who had been washed out by the tsunami.
Mumthaz and his family lived in temporary accommodation before moving into a new home built by the British Red Cross. The organisation also distributed cash grants on the island.

Mumthaz said: "The money was very helpful and without the grants it would not have been so easy to recover from the difficulties after the tsunami. Today I can see people engaged in different small businesses, many get an income from fish related activities and ferry services."

Women's equality

As the president of the steering committee he works closely with the community and he is also keen to create equality for women on the island.

“We have six women on the committee of 14 people and we are trying to create equal opportunity for both genders. If women weren’t included then half the community would be sidelined.”

More stories about our tsunami livelihoods grants

More about our tsunami recovery programme