Mauritius: Sakinah Caunhye

Date: September 19, 2018
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“GL has given me a lot of my “first times”.”

First workshop was about GBV at Gold Crest Hotel in 2012 – That was the first time in my life I ever attended a “workshop”

Second time, Mme Loga and the crew came to uni for a presentation about a book or the launch of something. During that time, Mme Loga asked me if I would be interested to write for them. I went to the office of GL for the first time and I was given press cuttings for the first time. (please be prepared, GL has given me a lot of my “first times”)

Third time, there was SADC Gender Protocol National summit and I expressed my interest in that and alongside a friend we went to attend and I wrote articles and it was published! Another first.

  • A short story that may be funny; emotional or significant in other ways, that demonstrates the essence of the relationship and draws the reader into the piece.

Well, GL has made me travelled a lot . Since the first workshop, that day for the first time in my life, I travelled by bus to Quatre Bornes. Next year following that meeting, I would travel alone for the first time by plane to Johannesburg!. Today when I sit and think back, I feel amazed by how being merely active with an organisation can cause such significant change in attitude and behavior. GL has helped me grow up to the person I am today.

  • In what way does this person qualify to be a Driver of Change? Please make this clear at the outset of the piece.

  1. A short history of the beneficiary’s learning journey with GL
  • Describe the nature of the beneficiary’s work.

I am a student and in the majority of my 23 years of existence I have done nothing but studying. I enjoy studies and home works and deadlines. I have a passion for writing, which I have recently discovered has been passed on from my late grandfather who wrote letters for the people of the village; especially writing with discipline and purpose. That being said, I just completed a degree in Journalism specialising in digital media. The 90s baby that I am, it was hard and next to impossible not to be affected and curious about the upheaval of Internet and social applications. At the moment, I am loving gastronomic and data journalism.

  • Give a brief history of the beneficiary’s first and subsequent encounters with GL: please include any negative experiences.

 The first time I met and heard of Gender Links was when I was in first year at the university. They held a workshop at Gold Crest Hotel and for the first time ever in my life I travelled by bus to Quatre Bornes. The workshop was about Gender and gender based violence. Since then began a series of encounters with them because the “teachings” of GL resonated a lot with my beliefs. The second time I met with GL, was when Mme Loga and the crew came to uni for a presentation about a book or the launch of something. During that time, Mme Loga asked me if I would be interested to write for them. I was thrilled. That would become the first time I did something in collab with a NGO.  I went to the office of GL for the first time and I was given press cuttings for the first time. (please be prepared, GL has given me a lot of my “first times”). I did “I stories” “changing lives” and started reading a lot about Gender equality. In 2012 I volunteered to cover the SADC Gender Protocol National summit. Together with a friend we went to attend and I wrote articles and it was published! Another first (lol). A week before the regional summit in Johannesburg, Mme Loga called me and asked if I would be interested to join the delegation to South Africa. I was thrilled to the core. I followed GL to Johannesburg where my life would change forever. I wrote for the newsletter and assumed the role of journalist for the first time in my life. (LOL). And also, that was the first time I flew alone. The latest encounter with GL would have to be the national SADC Gender Protocol Summit 2014 where I contributed to the online newsletter.

  • Please capture any light bulb moments, through anecdotes and examples.

When I got back from Johannesburg in 2013 from regional SADC GPS, I started loving my chosen path as a journalist and my newly born network. I started gaining recognition for the work I did and what I can do. It was mind blowing. Right then I knew that I was going to stay true and loyal to GL all throughout my life. Not because they flew me to J’burg (lol) but because I was provided with the confidence and courage to emerge as the young woman I am today: Bold, outspoken and fearless.

  1. Change at the individual level
  • What has changed in this person’s life?

To be honest, I don’t know or I can’t explain what has changed in my life. I come from a fairly conventional muslim background. I was born to an extended family where education was prime. The elders of the family with the exception of my parents, did not attend school beyond “CPE”. I was taught from a very young age that me and my siblings are equal and will always be. Since childhood, my parents treated us, my brother and sister, equally. None of us was privileged over one another. We were rewarded according to our deeds and punished accordingly. Also, I grew up knowing and learning about my rights, responsibilities and duties as a muslim girl. Right from the beginning I was taught that education was my birth right and I had the right and choice to every decision I take in my life. One piece of information that my father imparted to us, me and my sister, while growing up is that when someday we will start working and earning our living, no one but ourselves shall have rights over our earnings. It seemed normal and petty to me until now when I realised that its not the case. Growing up, I always thought that all the people especially women in the world enjoyed same rights as I do. But I was gobsmacked when the harsh reality of life came down upon me.

To my eyes, I would say that I grew up in a garden of roses. I was provided with everything without the need of anything. In a certain way, I was blinded from the actual world. When I joined uni and started being on my own; meeting with people from the outer world and discovering things as a young adult, I realised everything is not as simple as I used to think. Things that I would consider birth rights were privileges and luxuries to some people. I was appalled to know that people are battling to give to people the rights that I was enjoying since birth and which I thought was completely normal. Me and my siblings had similar duties and responsibilities and I thought It was the same in every household but that was not the case. We are in the 21st century and still boys are still considered superior than girls. Women are still being undermined and cut off from their dutiful rights.

When I met with GL I thought it was the best way to give back. I realised I was lucky and blessed and I felt the need to help people who are suffering from injustice.

Ever since I started digesting this life fact, the more my approach to people, especially to women changed. Unknowingly I already was, but I started being more gender aware or look at things in a more critical manner. Especially when it comes to the media, I read, view and analyse things in a more gender-based manner. And these are one of those things that can’t be undone.

  • Why has it changed?

How could my life not change? Once you start this battle of equality and justice, you just don’t stop. GL provided this platform for me to give back and my outlook towards life itself has changed. Because personally I never encountered any sort of GBV or discrimination and nobody wants to either. If someone is facing violence it’s against his/her will and no one deserves to face such situation.

  • To what extent can GL take credit for this change? Please be very specific. Please give examples and triangulate evidence

GL can take all the percentage in the world credit for this change. Through writing and contributing to content, GL has allowed me to give back and fulfil in a certain way my social responsibility. I have never been happier neither felt so proud of myself when I see my works through GL being published. It’s like working for a cause and contributing to the welfare and betterment of a person, in the society at large and in the long run to the entire world.

  • Is there any specific person at GL who is responsible for this change? Please be specific. What does this person have to say?

Mme Loga. She is a very inspiring woman. I have learned a lot from her. I am truly appreciative of how she has anchored GL Mauritius to what it is today. Through her, I learned what uni couldn’t possibly teach me. My first encounter with people and women with problems as a journalist had been though GL. It was Mme Loga who taught me how to talk to people who had faced a very troublesome past and how to get them to talk and make them feel good. Never in a million years could I have learned this at uni or anywhere.

  • What skills; knowledge; values and attitudes has the beneficiary gained through working with GL? What evidence is there to support this?

I have learned how to write “I stories” and “auto biographies” (LOL). No really, GL has allowed me to put my uni teachings into practice. I have learned to look and consume media content with a more critical mind and I deal with every day life in a gender-aware manner. Personally I have become a more open-minded person and I feel that I have become more “approachable” as well. Most importantly I have learned to listen to people pouring their heart out. Even at uni or my surroundings, people tell me “ Sakinah, you’re one of the persons I wouldn’t hesitate to run to, because I know you will listen to me without judging”. This is truly a honour for me. And this wouldn’t have been possible had I not met GL.

  • What other factors/people have been responsible for this change? Please give examples.

My upbringing and values taught since childhood by my family have definitely contributed to this change in me. GL has amplified these values and paved the way for me to act upon them.

  • Who else has been responsible for this change? Please quote this person/people as well.

  1. Change at the level of close relations
  • Do the changes at the individual level reflect in the way this person relates to those closest to them – e.g. a spouse, partner, son, daughter, or other close family members? Please give examples.

I am extremely thankful to my parents for my upbringing and ever since I realized my luck, I am even more thankful and grateful to them. I have even more respect for them for making me value education and promoting gender equality right from my home. It’s a skill for life and I find myself acting upon on it everywhere I go.

  • How do these close relations respond to the change? Please quote them if possible.

My family and immediate surroundings have always been supporting. Already they form the strong foundation on which I stand and when I share my newly learned knowledge or skill with them, they are thankfully very open and they accept whatever I have to offer. Up till now I haven’t faced any resistance. On the contrary I have gained much good wishes and encouragement from my family.

  1. Change at the community level
  • How is change in one person’s life influencing other lives? Please give examples and quote others.

Being the eldest, I have always had a certain influence on my siblings. They tend to follow my every action even though we have different goals and ambitions. I have noticed that my siblings tend to pause and think before passing judgement on anything. Also, my friends at uni and outside did not seem to know about Gender and GBV. I am happy that I have at least been able to share some knowledge and info with them.

  • What innovation has this person brought to their learning? What have they added themselves: please give examples.

  1. Change at the societal level
  • How have this person’s actions changed laws, policies and or practices? Please quote supporting and corroborating evidence.
  • How is this person creating new knowledge? How is this being fed back to GL? How is GL making use of the learning?

  1. Next steps
  • What challenges have been faced on this learning journey and how have they been overcome?

The biggest challenge for me has been the bitter reality of real life. It’s like Alice waking up from her dream of Wonderland. It was hard for me to accept how come I have been taught something and the outer world has been practicing something else. But I learned to adjust and GL has been with me all along. I will forever be grateful for that.

  • What are the beneficiary’s future plans?

My plan at the moment is to find a job that I really enjoy doing. God willing I will find it soon. For the time being, I am taking the time to enjoy some well deserved vacation. I want to keep on giving back and I hope to walk the road with GL even further.

  • Concluding thoughts

Grateful. Simply grateful.

LENGTH: There is no word limit, however the piece should normally be around 1500 words –3 pages single spaced.