Striving, building, empowering,
As resilient as the strong reeds,
Slowly, brilliantly, surely,
Where to start and what to write? What to include and what to leave out? The time I’ve spent at ELI Africa so far has been a hell of a roller-coaster ride. Everything, right from the interaction with kids to team work with Neha, Sam and Cedric, has contributed in making me a humbler, more complete and better person. Polishing off lesson plans for the English curriculum has been no small task, but it’s also been a process of learning, unlearning and relearning, getting lost in the phantasmagorical world of language and rediscovering the joys of childhood again. From cinquains to quatrains, from poetry to prose, from grammar to syntax, and from alphabets to paragraphs, this action-packed adventure, courtesy of ELI Africa, has been a lesson in love, sharing, hope and dedication. The founder of this NGO, the great Vedant Seeam, a young man of vision and aspiration, has managed to make us dream of a better world, a world of laughter and giggles, of understanding and experience, of turning weaknesses into opportunities, and of seeing through the veil of poverty and misery. His dream is slowly but surely hatching into hardcore reality and not a day passes, without every one of us at ELI Africa feeling thankful and grateful that we were taken on board this extraordinary initiative!
A single afternoon spent with a roomful of energetic kids at Roche Bois; a discussion with ELI Corps members about the progress of their students; cups of fresh juice poured for thirsty and sweat-dripping lads, a packet of chocolate chip cookies devoured by cheerful lasses, while I do a quick lesson on nouns and adjectives using the labels on the chocolate chip packet; a very long walk in the scorching sun, past the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens, while desperately looking for the local Social Welfare Centre; a visit to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and being greeted by an enthusiastic officer who lauds the efforts of our NGO regarding the creation of the ELI Forest in Plaine des Roches and wishes us success in our enterprise; meeting extremely committed young people who dedicate their time and efforts in ensuring that the ELI Corps program is a resounding success and at the same time instilling a sense of pride in this generation, which, alongside ipads, iphones, etc, are hell-bent on giving back something to society: all of the above is proof enough of the fact that my ‘work’ at ELI Africa does not consist of one dull moment
Hope is a powerful word; faith even more so. At ELI Africa, we’ve learned the importance of these two words. The road has not been easy, the journey promises to be full of bumpy rides and nothing is written in black and white, but in shades of ‘awesomeness’ (Vedant’s favourite word, methinks). But as long as we harbour the willingness to work for our country, for its people, for the denizens of this world, then impossible is nothing, if you’ll pardon the cliché. We are proud to say that we DO different, we THINK different and we ARE different. Today, ELI Africa’s strength is undeniably the children who are being empowered to attain their full potential. We can’t thank them enough for believing in us. As long as we have their support, we shall OVERCOME every stumbling block and stand tall.