Learning, a non-ending journey

Learning, a non-ending journey

Date: June 1, 2019
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Year 2018 at Gender Links Mauritius has been an extraordinary year for me. Working with a reputed organisation locally and regionally has always been a dream come true. Looking back, I completed almost five years with GL Mauritius and the best part of it is that the learning never ends.

I must admit that the Safe Haven Halfway Home project has been an eye opener for me. While we always hear of homeless youths, the plight of teenage mothers, the unimaginable traumatic childhood of those separated from their mothers and parents; I have vividly experience the pain of the young adults that we sheltered at GL Mauritius. I will forever remember this experience and the motivation that this experience gave me towards helping others, providing care and support made me realise how lucky I am to be surrounded by my near and dear ones. We must be forever grateful but not to forget to share happiness and spread love with those in need. I have learned that we must not treat the homeless as a distinct group, as all that they need is love and support. As beautifully put by Brian Tracy, ‘Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others’.

I have met amazing people in 2018 at GL Mauritius. Besides my various encounters with young teenagers who would openly talk to me about their love life, their crush, their dream work and aspirations, I also witnessed kids aged 2 seeking for affection and love. This project for me is truly a life changing one. I will never forget the case of one resident of ours who was successfully reunited with her family after 10 years! Imagine how tough it must have been for a being separated from your parents for 10 years, spending your childhood in a shelter but knowing that in the outside world you have your parents waiting for you. I could feel the immense joy of the girl hugging her mother after 10 years, the tears, the uncontrollable laughter, the comfort of being in her zone and the bliss!

I am also very grateful to GL for having nominated me for the Zanele Mbeki Development Trust programme for young feminists. Through this journey, I came across many young women from the fields of engineering, science, law and business. The encounter has been very enriching for me as I networked with the various fellows of the programme. I became more aware of African feminism, the fight for gender equality and human rights, the numerous campaigns, the literature behind and the affluent feminists from African countries who are not honoured enough. Being very impressed and amazed with the literature part, I continued to document myself through reading more about African feminism.

My experience at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March 2019 permitted me to share the reality of women in Mauritius with other NGOs that I met. I experienced the work of various NGOs worldwide working to promote and advance gender equality. Some of the sessions that I attended were really profound especially around youth engagement, the implication of the economic advancement on women and women living with disabilities.

To conclude, year 2018 and the start of 2019 has been a mix of honey and lemon for me. Fundraising for the sustainability of our office in Mauritius was a great challenge with the changes in the corporate social responsibility laws. However, the Country Manager, Anushka did not leave any stones unturned. We tried crowdfunding, reached out private companies, came with innovative projects with the youth and strengthen the Alliance by including women who attended the African Women Dialogue (AWID) from Mauritius. Well, the journey continue.

Sheistah Bundhoo is the Programme Officer at Gender Links Mauritius office

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