Dorise Cale – Mauritius

Dorise Cale – Mauritius

Date: August 21, 2015
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During the district level summit (DLS), Dorise says she felt very at ease with everyone. It was the first time she had met the people, yet she felt that they all knew each other. The atmosphere itself was such. During the event she found it funny that among the audience there was a group of women constantly taking pictures. Each time the Gender Links (GL) staff member would pass by, they would ask her to take a picture of them in different poses. She thinks they were in an official setting, but the atmosphere was very light.

Dorise teaches literacy and numeracy to children who do not know how to read and write. Whatever their age, she teaches them the very basics and starts working with them as they are. She does not have a set way of working. She adapts to the child’s learning style, gains his or her trust and makes him or her love what s/he is being taught. Little by little, the child begins to gain courage and starts learning once again.

Dorise is a social worker. Her priority is children; her own, those in her community, and at the school at which she works. She also helps to take care of vulnerable women in her locality. She helps with a lot of activities for women. She lives just in front of a school and has worked as a “cantiniere” for three years. Due to this experience of hers, children are very open to her. They talk to her freely and she is lovingly called “Miss Dorise”. On one particular occasion, a child in standard one climbed on a high wall fencing the football ground of the school, saying he would commit suicide. Several teachers talked to him and after much difficulty they managed to convince him to come down and calm him down. On hearing this, Dorise was scared and shocked, she went to talk to him and found out that he was a victim of bullying. She does a lot of counselling. Parents come to her late at night, as do several battered women with babies. She helps them out by taking the necessary actions. She then relays the information to the police and concerned institutions. After this, she makes sure that the people in difficulty are followed and monitored.

Given that she has access to a government school, she was watching a teacher who had not been taking the work seriously. Out of 25 kids in the class, only three passed. This confirmed the parents’ complaints. Thus the idea of Second Chance School was born. She raised this idea at the village council and the project was approved. She visited the education department at the district council. They decided that the school would do a sort of catching up with children who are unable to keep up with their grades. Everyone agreed to give a helping hand which was very encouraging. From the government school she got some books and some names of students who were not performing well. She went around the area and talked to the parents. She asked them for permission for their children to follow the course. Even though she lives very modestly with little or no money, she started doing the classes with the children. From hearsay, more kids came and the group started to grow which was very encouraging. Even though she did all this free of charge, Dorise has never felt that she was in need of money.

The District Council called to tell Dorise that they had chosen two women and two men to attend the DLS. Since she loves new encounters, she agreed and went along. GL explained the nature of things, who they are, what they do and why they are here. The day went very well. Surprisingly, unlike other workshops, Dorise says she did not feel sleepy at all. “The GL team was very dynamic, I never felt the need to rest or sleep.”

Something that was said during the workshop affected her. Anushka mentioned a phrase “arret plorer comen ti fi” or “to en tifi aret faire couma garson”. It affected her because as a mum she says all these things. So it made her think once and twice and many times. It then came to her how wrong her thoughts were. It was then that she realised there are differences between the sexes but in the end we are all the same.

Dorise has been living in Riche Lieu for the past 25 years and she has been working with children for 15 years. She says she loved being with children from a very young age. She believes it was God’s plan to make her live just in front of a school. All the kids in the area know her. They have turned her into a person full of love and affection. She never knew she could share this much love. This has strengthened her role and responsibility as a mother. It has made her realise that she is not only the mother of three, but she has a lot of kids. Working with children with difficulties has made her capable of bringing back any child. “Depi nerporte ki difil kite en zenfan li ete, mo cav ramen li a la raison.”

Dorise lived in a poverty stricken area where she often saw children walking around, sometimes almost naked or with dirty clothes on, asking for food and a few coins. This captured her attention. She decided to pay more attention to these children. She wanted to take care of them and make friends with them. The goal of her life became to support these children as well as pass on the message that each child is born equal and deserves the same rights and freedoms as any other child.

After the very first encounter with GL, Dorise says she has started to pay more attention to what she says to children: “Garson pa faire sa, tifi ki faire sa” (Boys don’t do that, girls do that). She no longer says such things, not only because it is not nice but because she has realised what a bad effect such words can have.

“Anushka is my inspiration and moment of truth. When she said those phrases, it rang a bell in my head. Never before has anyone said such a thing to me so it struck me and thus I began thinking.” Dorise also appreciates how Anushka is able to make people feel at ease. She loved her way of doing things. At this level of workshop, communicating in creole was a real boost to her morale. She has heard the name of GL but after seeing the organisation in action and meeting the staff, she no longer feels hesitant. “I feel that it is a pathway. An open door.”

When the DLS workshop ended she felt that she emerged as a grown up. She felt that she was more open minded. She no longer thinks that women need to feel hesitant amongst men. Dorise claims she needs to instruct herself before she can instruct others.

She has never been to a meeting where such serious things were spoken about with this much clarity. Already she is an outspoken person, but she always felt that she had a certain limit, but after the DLS she came to realise that the limit she set is not necessary and even if she exceeds this limit it is far from being a bad thing.

Dorise has two sons and daughters. The eldest doesn’t live with her. When her younger kids say gender insensitive things, she instructs and educates them. She is always trying to break down this complex of superiority. She shares her thoughts and opinions with her husband, explains to him and when there is a conversation or an issue that needs her to lead, she goes ahead without asking for permission.

Dorise says that her son felt a bit annoyed, but she explained to him the essence of this concept, the importance of being gender aware and the consequence of being gender insensitive and he has started to pay attention to his words and started to become more aware. For her, the most important thing is the initiation of realisation. We need to be fully aware from an early stage.

Dorise confirms that the concept is not sufficiently well known in the locality. But little by little, with the existing group of parents, she says it is very important to pass on the message.
When she first started doing social work, the problems of the people affected her a lot. She used to think about their problems and appropriate their problems and it was hurting her. She did not know how to canalise the problems, but with time she has learned. She also had difficulties in her own house, her husband did not seem to agree with her work. It took time before he accepted what she was doing.

She would love to communicate more effectively. Men find it more difficult to adapt to change, but it is very important. Dorise wants to work towards getting more men to attend meetings that she conducts in the name of education and equality.

Dorise explains how she has loved knowing GL. This organisation has made her move further ahead in her endeavour to help children and women


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