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Late Corporal Zaidhan's love for MNDF, a childhood dream of service

This is an English adaptation of a report by Fathimath Ajufaan of Mihaaru.

Ameera Osmanagic
04 June 2024, MVT 18:55
[File] Late Corporal Mohamed Zaidhan --
Ameera Osmanagic
04 June 2024, MVT 18:55

It has been decades since Maldives stopped imposing mandatory military service on its people. Many who join the force do so out of interest and love for their nation. One such person was late Corporal Mohamed Zaidhan, 23, who tragically passed away on 2nd June after being attacked by a shark during a high risk Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) training.

His family recalls him as someone who would always talk about becoming a soldier from childhood until the day he actually joined the force. His love for MNDF not only saw him encouraging his relatives to join the service, but also to remain in the force.

A true solider at heart.

Corporal Zaidhan first joined the army shortly after competing his O'Levels. The video calls he made to his family often featured his work, and the passion he had towards his service to MNDF.

"The one topic that Zaidhan talked about because he wanted to was that [MNDF]. Even most of [his] time was spent wearing the MNDF t-shirt," Zaidhan's uncle Mohamed Ali Manik said in an interview to 'Mihaaru'.

Unfortunately, his service to the country was cut short on Sunday, and the news of his passing has left relatives in a state of shock.

He had plans ready to visit his family during Eid and see his mother for the first time in a year. Picnic plans were in place for the whole family, including his younger siblings. However, before those plans could become reality, they were met with the news that Zaidhan was seriously injured while on training.

"Zaidhan's mom called [me] and said that Zaidhan's condition was very serious. [She asked] if there was anyone I knew in Laamu atoll. When [I] asked what happened, [she] told [me that Zaidhan] got attacked by a shark. That MNDF only revealed that much, so to check on Zaidhan's situation," Mohamed said.

"Then I heard that MNDF [flew Zaidhan's] mother and one younger sibling to Laamu atoll via Ifuru [island]. By the time they landed, they heard of his passing," he explained.

Zaidhan's passing, the loss of a son in charge of the family

As much as he loved serving the nation, he was also a family man. Even at the young age of 23, he took over his family's responsibility after his father became chronically ill.

"[Ziadhan's] family is not well off, and does not have the [financial] capacity to meet expenses. [His] father is ill. [His] mom worked to raise the kids. While things were like that, the eldest among the three children, and the [family] member who [voluntarily] took over arranging the family's affairs has now passed," his uncle said.

"A lot of plans were made [in time for him] to come to [his] island after the training."

"[We] often notice if a call is made, he would make [it] a video call. He would show his work. [He] would show MNDF's Coast Guard and things he could show [to his family]. That was to show he had an interest in this," Mohamed further added.

Zaidhan's love for his job also shone through even when he was with his family. While some of his relatives left their jobs at MNDF, Zaidhan was the one to encourage them to muster courage and continue their service.

"Even when he was young he said encouraging words [to those who resigned from MNDF]. [We] notice he was very interested in [joining MNDF] even when he was at school," his uncle Mohamed said, adding on the fact that Zaidhan would spend holidays working as well.

But it was not just his family that recognised Zaidhan's passion to serve the nation. MNDF also highlighted the love and determination Zaidhan poured into his time in service, albeit short.

Zaidhan's love for the MNDF uniform even during his last moments

"[He] had a dark green t-shirt like the one MNDF personnel wear. [We'd] see him wearing that t-shirt most of the time. We used to ask him, Zaidhan, are you going to wear that t-shirt all the time? When [we] asked he would say there is no issue with wearing the t-shirt, that he was really fond of the colour, to wear that uniform. That it was the reason why he wore it," Zaidhan's uncle explained how important the MNDF uniform was to the late officer.

At the time of his attack, Corporal Zaidhan was wearing his MNDF uniform. Seeing Zaidhan in uniform following his death reminded his Uncle Mohamed of the conversations he had with Zaidhan earlier.

"I'm very sad. But it was his dream to become an MNDF officer. He passed away in that service while in uniform," Mohamed said, explaining the impact of his nephew's death.

The family's request

While no further details surrounding the circumstances of the shark attack have been revealed by MNDF to Zaidhan's family as of yet, images shared with the family showed that Zaidhan sustained severe injuries to his thighs.

At this time, the family's request is to investigate necessary aspects of trainings and take action to prevent such a tragedy from repeating.

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