Ali Mohamed Fulhu
Ali Mohamed Fulhu sat beside me in a hushed meeting room at Paradise Island Resort where he has worked for the past 23 years. This made him one of the resort’s longest serving employees. A small man with a hesitant manner, he began to tell me about his childhood and how he ended up at the resort.
“I was born and raised in Male’,” he said. “I studied at Majeediyya School but did not go far in terms of education. I soon quit school to work as a clerk at Maldives Government Bodu Store (MGBS). It was during President Ibrahim Nasir’s reign and every store had a manager, a clerk and a store assistant. I was paid a salary of 105 Rufiyaa at the time.”
While working at the MGBS, Ali made a powerful acquaintance in the late Ali Abdulla of Alia and he left his post to work for Ali Abdulla at his carpentry workshop. “I must have been in my late twenties or early thirties then,” he said. “I did not know anything about the trade; my work at first involved applying varnish on products and sandpapering things.”
Over the years however, through observation and practice, Ali acquired and honed his skills. “I learnt the techniques on my own,” he said. “I did not have a teacher as such, but it wasn’t difficult to pick up.” His craftsmanship improved and he began to excel in the field. This is evident from the numerous awards he had received at handicraft exhibitions that were held in the country. He had won awards at almost every exhibition held between 1979 and 1990, often placing first or second. One of the sources of his greatest pride is a special award bestowed on him in 1984 by the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for his contribution to the field.
While at Alia, Ali worked in the construction of major resorts such as Bandos and Kurumba and was noticed by Qasim Ibrahim, who hired him in 1991. “When I came here, the resort was in the construction phase, the staff quarters were being built,” he said. “I did everything from making doors and doorframes to making tables. In fact,” he motioned to the large oblong table we were seated at. “This is my creation,” he said smiling. “I made this. I can guarantee that it will last much longer than imported furniture.”
Ali now heads the carpentry unit on the resort and, at 67 years of age, is no longer involved in labour. “I oversee people these days,” he said. The resort is undergoing some renovation and he supervises the work. Overall Ali seemed a man content with his position and achievements. “I’m happy here,” he said. “It’s an uncomplicated life that I lead.”