Minutes of Submersion
January 29/2019

Fourteen years ago today, the Maldives was peaceful and unharmed. Living independently, the people of Maldives expected nothing, until that morning of 26th December 2004. When climate change was an unpopular topic, four waves stormed over the low lying island nation without a warning; leaving thousands of people devastated.

Coming directly from Sumatra, Indonesia, the 9.1 magnitude Earthquake was felt at dawn in the morning as well. However, earthquakes and tsunamis were only just a subtopic out of the textbook; nobody knew what was coming before them. Without any Tsunami detectors, Tsunami waves rose from 5-10ft crashing through the coral houses of the atolls and the concrete city of Malé. Leaving some islands completely wiped off the map and others uninhabitable.

People of the most affected islands moved to nearby Islands and miraculously was accepted with open arms. Islands are known for their rivalry within the atolls, but this day broke down the barriers and brought the nation closer together. Commemorated as Unity Day, it is a reminder of those who we lost as a nation, those who were left hurt and those who lost their identities. Most importantly it is a day which we thank all who opened their doors and shared their belongings unconditionally. People of all ages came to rescue shelters with food, water, clothes and other useful items for months until proper damage control was completed, and it was the most beautiful thing the Maldives society has seen since a very long time.

Tsunami memorials are all over the country but the Tsunami monument is not hard to find. Located in the Southern Edge of Malé City, the monument features silver strips making up a cylinder. Each strip represents a life lost to the tsunami, while the silver spheres revolving around represent the atolls of Maldives. A great site to visit is R. Kandholhudhoo, one of the remaining ruins from the tsunami. The island is a post-apocalyptic grave site with broken down roofless houses and abandoned buildings. Houses are left as it is, untouched including the mosques that still have the holy books of Quran resting in the cupboards. Island residents who now reside in other islands in Raa Atoll, still visit this island to mourn on those who were lost. You can visit Kandholhudhoo by going to Ifuru domestic Airport and taking a speedboat/Dhoni to this island.

Unity Day is not a day of celebration but a reminder to a lot of Maldivians. It is the day that initiated the topic of climate change and global warming on a nationwide scale. The Maldives is still at risk of being washed off in case of a tsunami and can be uninhabitable due to global warming. Climate change will only make tropical storms worse, and the Maldives was almost at risk of two during the past year. A whole ethnicity survives over these islands, so let us talk about climate change, for the sake of Maldivians.