We have been conducting this pilot program on the edge of a precipice. This non-profit is young and fragile, and its survival depends on our will and abilities. On Tuesday, we started to see that our labor is leading somewhere–that quantifiable and substantial accomplishments are in our future.
1. We won Chase Community Giving. That means $20,000, and the advisory board has told us that we are being considered for an additional donation. Not much I can say to make the beauty of that more vivid. $20,000 can do a lot, like buy a nice car, feed a village for a year, or ensure the survivial of a non-profit startup.
2. We met with the District Council of North Mauritius. I was the only member of the group not at the meeting because I had to teach theater, but the others were delighted by their reception. The Council members were enamoured with all the projects–theater, sports, mangroves, health–all of them. They will throw their influence and facilities behind two plays on large stages, an inter-village soccer tournament and tennis clinic, a mangrove planting event, and a health NGO bazaar. Without the District Council sending invitations, supplying venues, and otherwise making things happen, none of these projects could be as grand as we now intend. If all goes well, we will return to the United States claiming a record of quantifiable results, in addition to the unqantifiable energy produced by our relationship with the kids.
3. An article was written about us–focusing on the theater project–in a newspaper called Le Maurisien. Patrick Yvonne, a Mauritian journalist whose daughter studies at Yale, came to our house last week and asked about all our projects. We were hoping for a simple write up, describing the organization and our work, but Patrick said that he would rather write a series of six articles, one on each of our projects. ELI Africa is bigger news than we thought. People here are very intrigued and pleased that Americans, especially from a prestigious University, would be interested enough in Mauritius to cross the ocean with generous intentions. Patrick came to Fatima while I was teaching theater and asked the students some questions. As I watched the students tease him good-heartedly and force him out of formality, pride bubbled up inside of me. For the first time I noticed how the kids, with all their spirit and variety, had brought me into the unity of their group. Patrick was looking at something that I was a part of.
We are very encouraged right now, but there is a lot of hardwork ahead of us.