A magic dive with a special person!

At the end of October, I was invited to a special event  …or better, a dive with a ‘special person’.

IMG-20151104-WA0001Here below the interview with Raffaele Vallana – General Manager and Co-Owner of Diving&Discovery – who hosted the event:

Raffa, can you give us a short background about Diving&Discovery and yourself?

Situated into the wonderful dive location of Ras Umm Sid, one of the most popular and fascinating capes in Sharm el Sheikh for biodiversity and landscape, Diving&Discovery has been operating in the scuba diving industry since 1996, offering top quality services for sea lovers.

Awarded for “Excellence” by H.E. Ministry of Tourism and as “Best Diving Center in South Sinai” by H.E. South Sinai Governor, the centre is proud of its esteemed position, recognized by several qualified international authorities such as EUF (European Underwater Federation) and ISO-UN (International Organization for European Standardization).

Classified as PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, Diving&Discovery offers a wide range of aquatic activities; finding himself in a homely environment, the guest has always the chance to be advised by a team of qualified professionals and choose what he likes more.

My own presence at D&D, as General Manager and Co-Owner, started on 1999. Earlier, since 1996, I had the opportunity to increase my personal experience and know-how as Instructor, through the cooperation with several diving centers in Sharm. My professional diving career started in Italy on 1991, but I had the privilege to dive since when I was 6 years old (1979) with my father, who transmitted me his passion, guiding me into a world which changed my life.

Who is Ghanim Mohmmed Al-Muftah?

Ghanim is a Qatari 13 years old cute and lovely boy, who was born with a severe pathology, called “Caudal Regression Syndrome”. He learned how to make his disability a strength point and he demonstrated how motivations and positive energy can bend and eliminate any kind of limitations, achieving unbelievable success and objectives.

How did you get in contact with him and his team?

It happened thanks to my “second Family” in Qatar. In fact, two of my best friends and partners of Diving&Discovery are working and living there. They are superb divers and very well integrated into local diving community. Therefore, when has been decided to edit a professional documentary about Ghanim’s life, they had of course no doubt about which diving centre to involve.. and I was really honored to have D&D being part of something so important.

What is the ‘’Journey to the depth’’ project?

It is a documentary, which narrates Ghanim’s biography, since when he was born, passing through all events and experiences which made him becoming a disabled athlete, able to compete successfully in several sports. I believe that the main message and meaning of the documentary, is to highlight how much fundamental are motivation and courage, for a serene and positive life, regardless the presence of a physical disability. Youth and adults too, can just achieve a very positive teaching, by Ghanim’s attitude and tenacity.

Why did you decide – together with his staff  – to organize an event in Sharm and what you wanted to achieve?

Well, since when has been illustrated to me the possibility to manage the event, I’ve realized that it was going to become the most important “mission” and challenge of Diving&Discovery. Something to be proud of…  I’ve immediately realize the importance of a fundamental perfect organization, putting together all our experience, for a very special case which deserve absolutely the best care and attentions.

…..Why to take this responsibility and why here?

First, for Ghanim.. as I said, he just deserved to be assisted, giving him the opportunity to have fun and learn, improving his diving skills, which believe me, are absolutely remarkable.

Second, because I firmly believe that Sharm El Sheikh deserve something too, as our small contribution for the raise of the image of the location, highlighting the safe, the flexibility and the good organization of professional dive operators, showing not least, the gorgeous biodiversity which characterize the local environmental. Perceptions and concepts, that were guiding here remarkable number of tourists, before of the deep crisis that we are sailing through.

Did you have any previous experience with Disable divers?

Yes, at Diving&Discovery we already had several previous experiences with disabled divers, but honestly, nothing comparable with the specific case of Ghanim. I mean, we never had the pleasure to assist a diver who suffer of a so severe handicap, being able to transmit motivation, positive energy and strength to the Team and myself. I have to say it.. we all learned a lot. And it will be unforgettable.

What makes diving with Ghanim a unique experience?

Wow… that’s the question I was waiting to answer to..

What makes unique the experience with Ghanim? Himself, his bravery, the contagious enthusiasm which made all Diving&Discovery Staff and Supporters to feel even more motivated in our profession and positive in life.

How Scuba diving can help people with special needs?

Scuba diving gives the opportunity to feel in freedom, without any barrier and limitations, being able to don’t suffer for any obstacle. How to measure it? Just seeing the wide smile and happiness which accompany special needs people before, during and after any dive…

2015-10-27 17.47.37 (2)PADI Regional Manger Teo Brambilla awarding Ghanim for his outstanding achievements in diving.