Work was at Children Foundation Mauritius, a non-governmental organisation which provides Value Based and Developmental Education (Educare) to children with special needs. We operated at staff level, and my stint there was nothing short of stellar. Work was meaningful and hospitality was first class.
In a team of 8, we were given the cognitive freedom to brainstorm ideas necessary to bring the NGO to greater heights. For introductory purposes, the state of social work in Mauritius is rather poor; Marginal groups do not receive much attention and thus resources are scarce. In the limited time of 6 weeks, we thus sought to increase the visibility of the NGO, create strategies and avenues to get funds, and tap on the community resources. In the short period of time, we came up with a formal proposal and it was met with enthusiastic approval. The implementation phase however, was very challenging, as the NGO had little resources and lobbying power to begin with. We had a route map, but no vehicle. And as time started to expire, our efforts quickly shifted to the implementation of an affiliate club in Middlesex University which could work hand-in-hand with the NGO and carry on our legacy. This was concurrent with another hotel and mall proposal, social media management, video creation, land cultivation, website designing and classes with the kids. Evidently, we had a lot of work cut out for ourselves. But "time and tide wait for no man", and in the blink of an eye, it was time for departure. Our work was hanging in the balance. Had we shot ourselves in the foot by aiming for the sky?
"Our lips to god's ears". In a remarkable turn of events, it was announced that the next batch of Evolve Mauritius interns would also be working with Children Foundation. The sky cleared up and the future was once again illuminated. Thanks to electronic means of communication, we remain in collaboration today.
On Places & Outings
The calendar of outings was pretty action-packed. 3-day outings with 4-day work in one week. Perfect work-life balance in a Mauritian style.
I'm more than satisfied with how much of the country I covered. On top of this list, I managed to go to Rose Hill, Trianon, Pamplemousse gardens and La Croisette. You can also add Phoenix Mall (Our third home), Bagatelle (and Strikecity!) and Port Louis to the list. (Mauritius is actually quite big a country to explore around!)
24 May Blue Bay
25 May Hiking 7 Cascades
27 May Flic en Flac beach (reported)
28 South trip (7 coloured earth, curious corner, Rum factory, Alexandra falls, Chamarel, Gorges, Mare au Vacoas, Grand Bassin, Le morne).
31 May Hiking - Le Pouce
3 - 4 June Road Trip
7 June Hiking Le Morne
10 June Scuba diving
11 June Vallée des couleurs (23 coloured earth, zip lining, quad biking)
14 June Hiking Petrin
17 June Ile aux cerfs
21 June Casela
What this Trip Meant
I have thousands of more pictures, and can go at lengths about all the sights we saw, things we did, work we accomplished, flavours I tasted, songs we sang, birthdays we celebrated, laughter we shared, tears we shed, drama that transpired, cleaning we did, things I bought, rainbows we saw, stories we shared , lessons I learnt, etc.
But you wouldn't get it.
Because your impression would be a hermeneutical one, not my embodied one. But more importantly, it would be missing the point.
Because a place without the people is a stage without its characters. This trip was about "people'. I lived in a house of 23 and each soul was a window to the world. Our interactions took us to places the mind had never visited before and vicarious imagination was discovery of alternate attitudes to life. Soon after the introductory reticence, we couldn't get enough of each other despite ourselves. The unbridled love and warmth we created turned us into family.
It was thus the people whom I met that made goodbye so painful. The island brought us together and I am forever indebted. The experience itself, was incredible but it is never to be re-experienced. They say nothing in life is free; Painful nostalgia is thus the price I pay. For now I precariously await this precious memory's fate of fading out. But I hope the waves never crash, that when we reunite in the future the feeling remains fresh and we turn back the times.
Nathanael went for a Global Volunteer program on 23rd May to 23rd June. His project is Evolve Mauritius.