Mauritius: A young artist’s journey from misery to joy

Date: October 9, 2019
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Valerie is a young woman, aged 18, who can create marvel with her little fingers. She loves to draw cartoon characters. She is also passionate about hairdressing and loves styling the hair of other residents living at Safe Haven Halfway Home. These are hobbies which she enjoys doing in her free time and which she intends to turn into a career. Like any young adult, she also enjoys watching television.

However, Valerie’s story is not like that of any other adult. Throughout her life, she has been moving from shelter to shelter across the island and barely experienced a real childhood. When she was just a baby, she was placed in a nursery. She moved to another shelter when she was 5 years old and lived there till she was 12. When she was 12 years old, she was placed in the Rehabilitation Youth Centre because she was wandering in Rose-Hill and did not reach the shelter on time. She told me guiltily that she used to talk rudely to her teachers and did not listen to them. She spent most of her teenage years at the Rehabilitation Youth Centre which she compares to a prison for children. Along with her friends, she once damaged the properties of RYC because they were going through emotional upheavals and needed to vent out. Valerie’s emotional outbursts may be a result of the traumatic past that she had. She is conscious of the fact that she was a difficult child and regrets the mistakes that she made.

Valerie met her mother for the first time when she was at RYC. For over 12 years, she lived without having any clue of who her mother is. She rarely thinks about her parents and does not miss them that much. When asked about the person whom she trusts the most and to whom she can confide her personal thoughts, she replied that she does not trust anyone and prefers to stay alone in her little corner. If something is troubling her, she buries her feelings inside. Valerie seems to have trust issues because of the past experiences that she had.

At Safe Haven Halfway Home, she is gradually opening up to other residents. Valerie is simultaneously working and following a training course at LUX Hotels and Resort. She initially encountered difficulties in integrating at her workplace but with the support of her co-workers and teachers and that of Safe Haven Halfway Home, she is growing into a more confident woman.

In a near future, Valerie seeks to have a family where everyone can stand on his or her own feet and who do not go through the same experiences that she did.