This past year has been full of milestones for Blue Marlin Komodo’s Eko.
He’s earned enough money to build his own house on land inherited from his father, has financed his sister’s relocation to Bali to attend university, was invited to act as a dive guide for Steve Backshall for ITV and is now a proud father to a baby son. We are proud to announce that he can also add “becoming a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor” to his list of accomplishments.
Eko, Blue Marlin Komodo’s senior divemaster, has been diving since 2010. Growing up in Melo, Flores, not far from Labuan Bajo, Eko’s interest in tourism was piqued by the steady stream of tourists and foreigners passing by. He moved to Bali to improve his English and after working a series of odd jobs came back home to Labuan Bajo where his Uncle introduced him to diving.
“I started diving in 2010. My uncle is a divemaster, so I was inspired to be like him…To be a guide was a really good job. Like, WOW, there were not so many local dive guides. Maybe less than 10…Diving became the tool for me to find a job that gave me both a better income than the average worker in Labuan Bajo and a higher connection and appreciation for the environment. Once given the opportunity to start diving, my eyes opened up to a whole new world, both under and over the water.”
From there he saved his money and slowly worked his way through the PADI system. As a rescue diver, he worked as a backup dive guide for local companies, although he always saw becoming a PADI Divemaster as the ultimate goal.
“I had my rescue and had worked as a backup dive guide. One day, I got a really big tip from one of my guests. I was thinking like, “Ok, I spend this money to get my PADI divemaster. I remember my uncle said to invest my money and knew how good it is to be a PADI divemaster. He was right. Becoming one of the very few local divemaster in Labuan Bajo, I managed to financially support my marriage, the birth of my son, my younger sister’s professional education and my younger brother’s primary education. I am very proud that I can help my family be prepared for the world we live in. Through this new found platform I was able to build my own house and support the people I love.”
Although becoming a divemaster was an achievement in itself, Eko didn’t stop there. He has become a proven advocate of marine conservation and marine environmental stewardship. His dedication to the underwater world of his native Flores and the unique flora and fauna of the Komodo National Park has been demonstrated through his participation in various programs, such as the Reef Check monitoring program, Manta Matcher identification trips and his attendance of various focus groups in the local community to discuss ways to more effectively manage the National Park. He represents the very essence of grassroots outreach work, displaying natural affinities for environmental stewardship and is the perfect “poster boy” for PADI’s community focussed efforts in this part of the world. Over time, Eko also earned his DSD leader certification. It was during this training that he realised how much he enjoyed teaching others. He recalls,
“My favorite thing was my first time getting to assist on a DSD. I really liked DSD. I was thinking, like, ok – I am like a teacher. I feel like I can teach this. I was thinking like, ‘I want to know how happy they are.’ It is so worth it. They’re happy, I’m happy. Its great.”
As Eko led more and more DSDs, this allowed him an opportunity to practice his English skills using the specific scuba diving vocabulary necessary to communicate some more complex ideas involved in theory. This was an imperative step towards gaining the confidence and proficiency necessary to take the Instructor Development Course (IDC). Unfortunately, PADI materials are not yet available for Instructor level training in Indonesian. Furthermore, the IDC is conducted entirely in English, teaching presentations need to be conducted in English and both theory and the general standards written exam are taken in English. Undertaking the IDC in your own language is no small feat, this would require even more intense studying and focus. However, Eko’s vast experience and desire to take the next step meant that there was no doubt that we were looking at somebody who not only wanted to become a PADI Instructor but would benefit himself, Blue Marlin, the diving industry and the area in which works. In his application for a PADI sponsorship of the IDC, he wrote,
“I would love the opportunity to become a PADI Dive Instructor because I know I would put it to good use and people who come from my same background will be able to see, that firstly, it can be done with hard work, and secondly, the steps have already been paved and there is an example for them to look at. Labuan Bajo is currently going through a tourism boom, but we still don’t have nearly enough local people working within the industry. Through this opportunity I would be able to train more people and expand the local diving network, creating more awareness with the delicate balance in our society.”
This past month, sponsored by PADI and Blue Marlin, Eko worked through the language barriers and finally earned his Open Water Scuba Instructor certification with Holly Macleod at Trawangan Dive Centre. (http://www.idc-gili.com/) We couldn’t be prouder of him! We’re sure a lot of scuba students will come swimming to him for courses. Who wouldn’t want such a cool teacher with that signature pick octopus attached to his regulator and eagle eyes capable of finding the littlest critters? Look for Eko at Blue Marlin Komodo to speak to him about his in-depth knowledge of the area, his love of underwater photography and his steadfast passion for diving. As for Eko’s take on the future and his role as a diving ambassador?
“Being a father has changed my life and made me realise what kind of role model I want to be for my son. Many of the values I constantly teach him are values that I practice every day in the dive industry, such as the fact that culture, race, socioeconomic background and religion make no difference when we are all underwater ambassadors.”