Looks like the program at Roches Bois, launched two weeks ago, is starting to gain momentum. The kids are clearly showing keen interest in learning English and the Corps members too seem to be enjoying the teaching experience. Some strong bonds have already been created. Each time I go there, it reminds me of the time when I was actually teaching in the centre at Mont Gout and to be honest I really miss that. I should definitely find some time to start teaching again! The past weeks have been really hectic and I was so taken up by work at ELI and my degree project that I couldn’t even find time to share with you that incredible experience which was the launching of the ELI Corps Program at Roches Bois.
To put it simply, it was like a dream becoming reality on this Monday 1st of October when our ELI team walked past the doors of the OSTE Centre to meet the kids and parents who were all waiting impatiently to discover what our energetic bunch of youngsters had to bring them.
In fact, the whole adventure started several weeks ago when we were driving around Port-Louis in search of potential centres to carry on our program. We had chosen the region around Port-Louis because according to statistics obtained from the government website, many of the schools located in this region had a high rate of CPE failures. We eventually reached the social centre of Roches Bois and got out of the car. To be honest, we hesitated before getting in. We were really concerned about the security of our volunteers if we actually were to open a centre in Roches Bois. But we finally got in and each time I go to the OSTE centre and see the smile of those kids enjoying – yes, actually learning and having fun at the same time is possible – their classes, I am so glad we did. There we met a lady who kindly gave us the contact details of Mrs Stephanie Thomas, the founder of an organisation named OSTE whose centre was located nearby.
So we went there and met Mrs Thomas who warmly greeted us. She told us about her organisation and about how they gave food to the kids everyday after school and helped them with their homework and any difficulties they faced at school. We also learned that they were involved in parents’ education too. She got really excited when we told her about our program and immediately recognised it as an opportunity for the kids in Roches Bois. By the end of the meeting, we were definitely on the same page and since that day we have been working together with her team to make this 1st of October happen. And I think this is a great tribute to our motto – together we make a difference!
When the big day came, I was personally feeling a bit nervous because of two main reasons. I was firstly asking myself if the parents would be willing to send their kids to take part in our program which is clearly different from what they do at school. However, those doubts were cleared when, after a brillant speech given by Vedant, one of the parents raised her hand to thank us and congratulate us for what we were doing. The other parents gave their support by applauding. The second thing I was worried about was the kids’ interest for the program. After talking to the parents, we talked to the kids who surprisingly listened in silence which was very encouraging. Finally it was our volunteers’ turn to take on the floor and lead their respective classes which they did brillantly. The kids looked pleased. That first day was simply awesome!
Often when people look at Roches Bois, they see only the dark side of it and start looking upon the people who live there. But if we care to take a closer look, we can see people such as Mrs Thomas and her team and also all those kids who come to the OSTE Centre three times a week with their eyes sparkling with curiosity and willingness to learn. Should we leave those kids on their own because of the name of the place in which they were born? Unfortunately, that’s what our system and society actually does and as a result of that, people living in those looked upon places are trapped in a vicious circle. I believe it’s high time to get out of our ivory towers and show people such as Mrs Thomas that they are not alone in this fight. Always keep in mind that together we make a difference!