Isabelle David – Mauritius

Isabelle David – Mauritius

Date: May 29, 2012
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I’m the vice president of an organization called LEAD in Port Louis. The organization was formed in 2010, so we are still very young. We work with children living in difficult situations; particularly, children between 5 and 12 years who come from abusive families, or have faced drug abuse, invest, violence, or other problems. One a month, we have sessions on do projects on various things, from crafts to trainings, to help the children express themselves. We look at everything these children bring in. We also make sure they are referred to various people, for example, doctors, or psychologists, after a meeting with the children and the parents. Instead of having a child speak directly in these situations, the organization can be their voice. We try to work with the parents, so that they don’t feel like they are bad parents, but so they can improve the situation at home. Sometimes, they don’t know where their children go our, or when they’re coming home. Many of these norms and skills are taught and learned, they’re not automatic. We try and link them to organizations that will support them to resolve whatever issues they are having at home.

Sometimes, we struggle to work with parents, because they don’t understand the importance of following the program; this can slow down our work. Since we have a set program of 30 sessions, it becomes difficult when people fall behind. We support them to stay engaged in every way we can. 30 sessions aren’t enough, but at the moment it’s the base we can offer. Just because the program is up doesn’t mean we disengage – we still try and follow up wherever we can.

My background is as a teacher, mostly in communities with lots of social problems. The difference is so apparent between schools in which parents have support, health, and resources, and schools where that is lacking. It really inspires me to see changes in children, when schools can support them to thrive, especially when they don’t find this support at home. It brings so much meaning to my work.

We do everything as a network, and that is why Gender Links has been so important to us. This project began as an association, with all different organizations bringing in their area of expertise. It is impossible to work on social issues with children in isolation of the other problems they face. So often, they are living in households with high levels of GBV, and drug use. Gender Links is active on these issues, through awareness raising, lobbying, and on so many other levels. We bring in the perspective of children. If we all work together, with our various strengths, we can strengthen communities, and create an environment where children, women, and men are all empowered to build their own futures. If we were working alone, we wouldn’t see the same changes in children’s lives.

There are so many areas for future work; sometimes this can be overwhelming, but it’s also a source of inspiration. There’s an interest by government in the project, which is a good start, because we hope that they will support us to expand our work into other towns and villages. We are also advocating to have a department of children. At the moment, there are so many different spaces that deal with children’s issues in some way, but nowhere in government is there a holistic overview. We are making a difference on so many different fronts, but we need to continue working together.



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