Friday, 11 March 2011

A wee Namaste Update

So there have been some changes to my work at Namaste now. After the New Year things seemed to fall into place and Katie and I have started teaching in the afternoons. There are two quite capable girls - Geraldine, 10 years old and Yasmina, 14 years old. They are very keen to learn. I mainly work with Geraldine. Geraldine hasn't been to school in over two years. I teach her English. I may have mentioned this before, but all the school curriculum in Mauritius is in English. Yet, Mauritius is a French/Kreol speaking country. It doesn't make a lot of sense. Anyway, her English was quite limited before our wee afternoon lessons started. But now she knows the alphabet, colours, some facial features and various other vocab which she's learnt from books - like 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'!
It's a bit of a puzzle the story behind Geraldine. Since arriving in Mauritius over 6 months ago it's become quite apparent that Geraldine has no mental or physical handicap... yet, she's living in a home for mental and physically handicapped girls? What Katie and I have learnt is that there is an extreme shortage of homes and places of safety for children in Mauritius. Which inevitably results in some of the unlucky ones being placed in homes unsuitable to their needs. It's really very sad to see.
Katie and little Sebastien
Though Geraldine comes across as a very happy little girl. She is well taken care of at Namaste. In some of the homes in Mauritius children live in far worse conditions. She often comes to us for cuddles and kisses. She has a little trouble with her speech - and can't pronouce my name correctly "Keeeeeeloeee!" (very cute). And causes a little mischief at the home. She lives to wind one of the older girls up, Jenny. Who will then chase her round the house with Geraldine screaming at the top of her lungs!
It's going to be hard to say goodbye. She has all of a sudden realised that we're not going to be here forever... everyday she asks us, "Are you coming tomorrow?". And now she's started to ask us, "Are you coming in January, February, March??". And every time we tell her, we go home in August or yes, we're coming tomorrow. But still she asks. When the day comes that we have to say "No, we're not coming tomorrow" it's going to be heartbreaking. But on the brighter side, hopefully there will be volunteers at Namaste next year! And they can carry on the work we left off. Nick our Desk Officer from PT is coming to visit soon so we shall see!
That's all for now!

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

I'm very glad that from time to time I'm still pleasantly surprised by the absolute kindness of some Mauritian Strangers. I've been here over 6 months now and had a thought that maybe I should start documenting this stuff... Here is just one days worth of kindness that I've experienced in Mauritius.

Charlie and I spent a lovely Saturday together last weekend. Much of it shopping in Rose-Hill. We've recently discovered the 'Turidard' (I'm really not sure how to spell that!). The most gorgeous, comfy indian clothing. I managed to pick up some material in Port Louis which I have taken to the tailor to be fitted! I just popped by to see how he was getting on, it's looking wonderful! I'm so excited! Anyway, we happened to be in Rose-Hill searching for some material for Charlie. In one shop we met a lovely woman. Seeing Charlie was getting a little flustered (we couldn't find a turidard she liked) she invited us to sit down and took a can of pear juice and some nuts out of the side drawer of her desk, offering them to us. We sat with her, had a chat, met her son and 20 minutes later she was insisting we call her Mama Maurice. I think she felt sorry for the fact we're so young and living by ourselves without a mother to support us from close by - I miss you mum. Many Mauritians are completely bewildered when we tell them we're only 18!! Eek! How embarrasing! I've been having some trouble with learning Creole - a much bigger task than I had anticiapted. Mama Maurice was very understanding and kindly offered to teach me! She said, "You come and help me in the shop and I will teach you Creole!". Unfortunatly my spare time is limited. And I don't think I will be able to. But she's always going to be there for a chat! Charlie and I will visit again soon no doubt.

Eventually, we did find some material for Charlie in a shop close by. But we walked away from the shop not just with Charlie's material but with a "petit cadeau" - 3 free Saris!!! The shop assisant insisted that we take them! We would be doing him a favour, they were old and he couldn't sell them! Charlie and I hurried home afterwards and tried on our "petit cadeau". They are massive! Hanging of our waists! But very comfy! We had a ball of a time prancing around the house in our saris sagging behind us! Ha!

After we walked home. There is a small housing estate near to where we live. Often there are children playing in the yard. We always say hello, but have never stopped to speak to them. On this particular day Charlie and I had the time to have a wee chat with them - very sweet kids. Later that day they arrived at our doorsteps with a lime for each of us - which no doubt they picked from the tree at the end of the road shh! So we invited them in for a drink and then took them to the river at the back of the house where you can swim! They were loving it, plunging into the water and splashing about everywhere! They enjoyed themselves so much that they asked if they could come round again on Saturday. Charlie and I have decided we will go to the housing estate to visit them. I want to teach them how to play rounders! Should be lots of fun!