For more than ten years since her own IDC, Dive-Careers has worked with Marie-Lise Roux, right through to her becoming one of the most successful PADI Platinum Course Directors in the world. After more than a decade of great successes working together, Marie now embarks up on a new chapter with her partner Arnaud to start a family. Seems the perfect opportunity for us to take a look at the highlights and mishaps of Marie’s career over the past decade from Divemaster, dive shop owner, PADI instructor through to Course Director, from Egypt, to Thailand and onto Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Such a wonderful career to recap with a few photos and a couple of stories.
I first met Marie at Buddha Bar when her then partner, Bas convinced her to come to Koh Tao for the IDC. We had just had a Dutch speaking instructor leave, so there was an opening at Buddha View, Koh Tao for Bas to go straight into the team. Both Bas and Marie fitted in great right from the beginning.
Marie and Bas had come from Egypt. There they had met. Bas was doing his diver training and Marie, as a divemaster, had opened a shop with her Egyptian husband. This is sounding like a timeline of Marie’s relationships and not about her career as a diver. Not meant to be that, but I guess relationships have also followed her career around the world. Anyway, Bas swept her off her feet, probably with a bottle of vodka, and they left to get married on the shores of South Africa, a destination they would return to as Course Directors for Dive-Careers a decade later.
Marie found work straight after her IDC on Koh Tao with Coral Grand and later came back to work with Dive-Careers and Buddha View. Not only bringing a second language with French and a great personality but also a strong marketing acumen, she quickly made for herself a successful career as a dive instructor. She has always done very well with getting people eager about dive courses right from open water through to the IDC. Whether communicating on email or in person, that passion and enthusiasm she feels towards the dive industry is clear. This is why I pushed her towards Course Director and wanted her working with me.
Marie started off as a Course Director with Dive-Careers on Koh Tao in 2015. After so many years on Koh Tao, she had such a great base of friends and social network that guaranteed her successful IDCs on Koh Tao right from the beginning. Her IDCs have always been fun and a great social atmosphere. It is even how she met her now partner and father of their soon-to-be child. Obviously very sociable events.
I have relied on Marie for so much, from making sense of my accounts, keeping Bas in line and keeping up with the emails, through to being called out of bed in the middle of the night and told to find a way to Bunaken to start an instructor course the next day when I have been stuck at a border with passport problems. No complaints, maybe a quick snipe at my organisation abilities, and then she would just buckle down and get it done. Turned up the next morning, half a world away and got the IDC completed.
The last couple of years Marie has been based on Indonesia where she has made many new friends and reunited with many old friends in the dive community. She has also been conducting the IDCs in Sri Lanka for Dive-Careers and Poseidon Dive Station where she has developed the respect and admiration of the local diving community. That great sense of community has always been so strong with Marie.
This was the beginning of our 5th year with Poseidon Diving Station in Sri Lanka. While part of their team was busy opening their other location in Trincomalee, north east of the Country, a big part of the Poseidon Family was still on Hikkaduwa, south west, as, despite the approach of the end of the season, the place was very busy.
On top of that, a group 9 people decided to take over the place: US! The “Want to Go Pro” people!
Sri Lanka is truly an amazing country. A generous and hospitable nation filled with wonderful stories, a rich and diverse culture and history, and fascinating dive destinations. I had the great fortune in February 2013 to conduct the first PADI Instructor Development Course in Sri Lanka. It was an excellent experience.
IDC Sri Lanka down on the beach
The IDC was conducted at Poseidon Diving Station Hikkuduwa with all Sri Lankan nationals as candidates. Right from the beginning the stories and experiences started flowing. The dive center was started in 1973 by Swedish adventurer Sven and Lesley Sembakuttige, father of the present owner Chami Sembakuttige. Fortunately Sven was actually visiting with his family so I had the opportunity to listen spellbound to his stories of diving Sri Lanka in the seventies. At 82 he only gave up diving last year and has a lifetime full of adventures from diving in the first ever made dry suit, discovering wrecks and treasures around Sri Lanka, even showing me the tiny compressor that they smuggled into Sri Lanka to fill those first tanks; through to the stories of the importance Chamis dad played to the local community.
No greater tribute to that exists than the comparatively low loss of life on Hikkuduwa in the 2004 tsunami. Chamis family have strongly advocated protecting Hikkuduwas reef for decades. During the IDC we had Oliver Ridley and Green turtles nesting and hatching right in front of the dive centre. Swim twenty meters out to where we were doing the confined presentations and you have hundreds of trevally schooling, incredibly enormous turtles swimming around and interfering with the confined skills and a school of bumphead parrotfish. A great testament to the local community protecting their reef. Reefs either side of Hikkuduwa have been decimated by generations of limestone mining. During the tsunami, those areas that had lost the natural barrier protection of the reef were completely devastated with massive loss of life. Few died where the reef remained relatively in tact. A legacy to the forethought of Lesley Sembakuttige.
Some of the guys leading dives there, like Lal and Sunil, have been leading dives in the local area since the 70s and 80s. Such an immense wealth of local knowledge and experience. Lal was actually on the fisrt Sri Lankan IDC and has been a registered PADI divemaster since 1993. When I checked his card at the commencement of the IDC I remarked on how worn and water logged the card looked. He replied how he actually lost his wallet in the tsunami, only to rediscover it three years later on the inner side of the reef, PADI Divemaster card still in tact.
One of the first Sri lankan PADI Dive Instructors
Next IDC I really hope I can organise a trip with these guys out to the Great Bassos 1701 silver wreck found by Arthur C. CLarke in 1961. They still know where the treasure lies. But then again, I would also like to go diving in March/April off Tincomalee after seeing the video from one of the other IDC candidates, Menake, of diving with a pod of sperm whales. Guess I will have to do several more trips to Sri Lanka.
We also conducted the first Enriched Air instructor course on Sri Lanka. This was at the insistence of Lakshmann who was doing his staff instructor course. After years of diving on mixed gases and blending his gases at home, he thought he better do the course and check that he has been doing things correctly all of these years. I guess that he has not blown himself up is proof that he was following correct procedures. He actually started diving with Mike Wallis who was filming underwater Sri Lanka back in the 60s and 70s and was invloved with Arthr C. Clarke in the finding of the treasure on Great Bassos.
Sri Lanka IDC celebrations begin after a super successful PADI Instructor Exam
Teaching the next generation of Sri Lankan divemasters and PADI Instructors is well underway. Poseidon Diving were also hosting Plongeurs du Monde at the same time of the IDC. Plongeurs du Monde is a group of committed dive instructors that devote their time and money, with support from PADI, to training scuba diving to local children in under developed regions. Louis, the president of Plongeurs du Monde, has established programmes in Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and is also looking at India. Since the 2004 tsunami they have trained over 200 kids in Sri Lanka. This year saw their first batch of successful PADI Rescue Diver candidates and next year will be the beginning of PADI Divemaster training. They are doing a wonderful job at helping foster an appreciation and respect in local communities for scuba diving and the underwater environment, plus helping mould our next generation of PADI dive professionals.
Such a wealth of experience on this IDC, but they were all still very nervous when it came to completing the PADI Instructor examination. They did not know what to expect from PADI. At the beginning of the IDC they had recounted how on the first ever PADI Member Forum conducted by Johnny Chew after the tsunami, they had all turned up nervous and worried, expecting PADI to administer exams and check their knowledge. Luckily the PADI examiner, Rob Scammell put their fears to rest and made the IE as relaxing as possible, creating an environment conducive for these guys to show how knowledgeable as divers they are and how good as instructors they will be. Drummers on the beach and drinks and curry we celebrated 100% success for the first ever IDC on Sri Lanka. Congratulations Menake, Praveen, Feroz and Lal. Sri Lanka will continue to grow as a dive destination with continued support from you guys and I look forward to IDCs on Sri Lanka in the future. Thanks also for the support and help during the IDC from Chami, Lakshmann, Devsiri and Rob.
EFRI Trainer programme
It was really a week of firsts. After the IE Rob Scammell conducted the EFRI trainer course with Rob Partridge for Temple Adventures in Pondicherry, making him the first EFRIT in India.
After the IE I had the opportunity to travel around Sri Lanka for a few days and found a wonderful country rich in history and culture. Visited some of the best ruins and examples of buddhist art that I have seen anywhere. Plus glimpsed great national parks with a wonderful diverstiy of wildlife. I really look forward to returning to Sri Lanka. It is sure to become a must see travel destination in the near future and is simply a fantastic destination for an IDC.
Sri Lanka - a wonderful country to travel around after your IDC
Sunset on our Sri lanka IDC
Roshan Deepal - Teaching form the Heart
famous shipwrecks for year round diving off many parts of the island. Tourism and scuba diving holidays remain on the rise after the end of the war making it critical for dive operators to continue to provide safe diving practices and develop comprehensive marine conservation measures and systems.
Roshan by the pool as a successful dive instructor in Sri Lanka
Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka Water Sports Centre located in Seenigama, is a not-for-profit community based tourism initiative managed by Sri Lankan NGO, Foundation of Goodness (FoG). Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka is committed to delivering a high quality recreational scuba diving operation while educating their customers, the local village community and area fisherman on marine conservation. FoG, in partnership with PADI and Platinum Course Director Mark Soworka sent Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka head dive master, Roshan Deepal to Temple Adventures in India to take part in the PADI Instructor Development Course. This was all made possible through PADI’s Scholarship programme whereby Roshan’s PADI fees were fully covered by the organisation enabling him to obtain this esteemed certification.
Roshan’s scuba career began over 20 years ago in a small coastal fishing village in Dodanduwa in southern Sri Lanka. His first memories are of the sea where the village community comes together for work and life. He was given the opportunity to obtain a certificate through the Sri Lankan government in basic diving and swimming skills. Little did he know his first job as a lifeguard at a hotel in Negombo would be the start of an exciting adventure ahead. The hotel expanded on his government training and enabled him to be employed at their onsite diving centre taking hotel guests on scuba day trips. There began Roshan’s passion for showing others the wonders under the sea.
PADI Instructor Roshan and PADI Course Director Mark Soworka meeting up after the IDC to see how Roshan is goign as an instructor
Roshan is very grateful for the opportunities he has been provided all along his scuba career and the pinnacle has been his recent IDC at Temple Adventures in Pondicherry, India. With PADI’s scholarship programme assistance, Roshan was able to secure something he never thought possible. He also met many new friends, networked with other professional divers and to his delight, went diving in a fresh water quarry for the very first time.
Roshan has since returned to Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka with an enthusiastic outlook on growing the scuba industry and awareness of marine conservation in Sri Lanka. His first major task will be to teach OWD and conservation topics to the many disadvantaged rural young people who have gone through FoG’s diving & training programme. Without Roshan and FoG, a PADI certification would not be attainable within the resources of this rural community. He will also introduce marine conservation materials and coral planting initiatives to Foundation of Goodness for possible funding to continue preserving and repairing the coral reef off the Seenigama coastline.
In the coming years, Roshan would like to widen his experience and become qualified as an equipment specialist as this specialty is rather unique to Sri Lanka. He is grateful for the many opportunities and has always felt that his role within the Foundation of Goodness was serendipitous. Before he was hired on as Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka’s Dive Master, he was merely weeks away from leaving his wife and two small children for a long-term diving job in Oman.
Roshan on his PADI Instructor Examination
Roshan never wants to stop learning and growing in his career. He wants to teach from his heart and ensure his students, Sri Lankan and foreign, are excited and learning to dive at the highest level of safety and care. He feels it’s his destiny.
The Foundation of Goodness, a local NGO located in a coastal village named Seenigama has been in operation since 1999 but really became most effective after the 2004 Tsunami which resulted in over 150 lives lost in Seenigama alone.
Before the Tsunami, for many generations, one of the main livelihoods in this coastal region was coral mining and burning to make quicklime, which was illegal, dangerous, and an environmental nightmare. Research conducted after the tsunami quickly showed that in areas where coral reef had been destroyed, the waves were much more powerful and destructive. This research led to the banning of coral mining resulting in many people (and youth) losing their means of making an income.
In response, the Seenigama Diving & Training Centre commenced in 2008 to redirect local diving and swimming skills from a destructive purpose to one that is constructive. Through our training programme, rural young people have the opportunity to gain diving qualifications to achieve well-paid employment in the technical and recreational diving industry. It is only through previous donation and support that the Foundation of Goodness has been able to successfully implement this project. In recent years, with the economic recession, it has become more difficult to fund this vital programme. Therefore, in 2013, Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka Water Sports Centre was established as a community based tourism initiative to sustain the Seenigama Diving & Training Centre. Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka is the first not-for-profit dive centre in the region and 100% of the profits are reinvested back into the Foundation of Goodness.