Whats it all about . . .

My name is Rachel Talbot and from September 2011 to July 2012 I will be Volunteering for Project Trust, a charitable organization which sends young adults from 17-19yrs overseas to do charitable work in a range of projects. I raised 5000 pounds for this opportunity through a range of events and would like to thank everyone who donated! This year i will be working in a center for children with disabilities while immersing myself in all things Mauritian! Hopefully i can update here what i am up to, may not update religiously . . . Thanks for visiting :)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Happenings April 2012

Despite being adamant the last time I wrote that I would keep more up to date, I’ve left it far too long to write the next installment of this blog!  Bear with me and my lack of application while I fill you in on what’s been happening recently

I spent the Easter holidays working with the shelter girls upstairs in CEDEM. Unfortunately for atheist me, Easter here means the end of Lent, the Resurrection and a lot of church events - not the heaps of chocolate eggs I was hoping for! Thankfully the rota at the shelter was kind to me and I got my first 4 days off since Christmas so I had a well deserved fourteen hours’ sleep and then did some sightseeing with Helen.

One of the girls turned eighteen during the holidays, the first resident to do so since I’ve been here.   That meant she was legally allowed to leave the shelter and her mother and little brother came to collect her the very next day.  She was so excited to go but couldn’t stop herself from becoming tearful when it came time to leave.  If I’m completely honest, I was clutching onto one of the other girls having a little sob too.  On an outing to the beach once, this girl had shown me where she used to live and I was completely shocked; the house was entirely made of tin with the dirt yard covered in broken glass and, old bits of machinery. I couldn’t have pictured a more desperate place to grow up. Thankfully she was going to her family’s new house on the other side of the island. She also will have no contact with her father or older brother who makes me feel relived as they were the reason she was taken into the shelter in the first place.

With the departure of an old face, we also had the welcoming back of another.  Once term started again Miss Sandrine told us that three new girls would be starting in the college. They were shelter girls from the notorious OYC (apparently the shelter where troublesome and unruly girls are sent to live). These were Elodie, Annabelle and Priscilla. The latter was a former resident of CEDEM shelter who had originally come when she was seven years old but had had to be sent to OYC after incidents at CEDEM and disagreements with Madame Rita.  Of course this got all the other shelter residents really excited and they started behaving pretty badly to impress each other and the new girls - such a fun first week back … I actually find Priscilla very mature and easy to talk to; at seventeen she only has one year of shelter left.  I’m also enjoying getting to know the other girls too;  Elodie has a laugh that is even funnier than the joke!

In my last blog I wrote about Anastasia, the shelter girl I was tutoring before she went to India to have the operation on her legs. She has been and come back since I last wrote, having been in India for about a month.  On the day of her operation we all held a vigil at the school and sent positive thoughts Anastasia’s way.  Her recovery has been swift and it was fantastic to hear that she had stood for the first time.  She’s now back and living in the other shelter but I see her at school.  She is so skinny after her operation but she’s happy and encouraged to walk everywhere with her supports on her legs so she can build up her muscles.  It’s awesome to have her back.

The return back to school after the Easter break also meant back to the special needs pupils – how I’ve missed their little ways and eccentricities!  Unfortunately Fazial, the autistic boy who was obsessed with feet as gone back to his native country, Dubai, so my tootsies are feeling pretty neglected!  Now, however, I have a new table where I help the pupils with their work, getting them organized for lunch, etc.  One of my favorites is Emmeline who is just gorgeous – very dark, voluptuously beautiful but so timid.  However she has such an infectious giggle that I can’t help but smile when I’m around her.  Then there’s Luv who also is just so cheery and a little cheeky and loves to try his English out on me. Unfortunately he had an epileptic fit in the playground the other day - too much sun and running about. It was heartbreaking for the other teachers and me when we could do nothing but wait it out while it was clear he was in so much distress!

The school has suggested that I have a ‘Scotland’ day before I leave so the kids have an idea of my culture. It’s a little bit of excitement and I’m already planning the mince and tatties, kilt wearing, ceilidh dancing escapades! I tried to make tablet the other day in preparation . . . came out resembling sand and then set so hard that we were in danger of cracking a tooth at every bite – need more practice! If anyone has any more ideas for activities on the day or materials or even an easy tablet recipe (!!) would be much appreciated.

In my last blog I wrote about the catamaran trip which I would be going on for my birthday. .  A few months too late!  Well we did eventually go, together with our PT country representative’s son, some of his friends and Helen’s brother.   It would probably have been a lot more enjoyable if the weather hadn’t been choppy and I got sea sick for the second time in my live. Vomiting into a plastic bag while Daisy vomited into another plastic bag beside me was not the best of memories!  . But, apart from that, the rest of the day was bliss, particularly discovering a perfect deserted island :D

While Helen’s brother was here (he had hired a car), we took the chance to visit the horse racing track, Champ de Mars, on the weekend which is a pretty big thing here.  It was a lot of fun to get dressed up and pretend we were part of polite society.  We decided to pool our money to bet on each race, 10 rupees each (about 20p) - heyy big spenders!   However we lost on every race and, in desperation, our choice of bet became more and more outrageous - our favorite color that the jockey was wearing, which horse went to the toilet last . . . By the time of the last race, most of the others had given up, calling it all a fool’s game.  However, Helen, her brother and I upped the ante, bet 25 rupees each on the final race … and won!  From the way we jumped up and down and yelled, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that we’d won thousands of pounds, not 250 rupees (almost £5).  It was enough for a celebratory McFlurry for each of us on the way home to finish a most enjoyable day.

Since I last wrote I have been on some more nights out in the north with new friends we’ve met on the beach and around the island. Going out three weekends in a row was my record here! how the times have changed . . . we also had a wine tasting night at the High commissioners residences which was a lot of fun brushing shoulders with the rich and powerful of Mauritius high society. And there were even some people from Scotland which tugged at my heart strings.

So I’m on holiday this week at last! Taking the time to relax and do some more exploring – Mauritius is so tiny it doesn’t take very long! On Friday I can say that I will be coming home next month!! Not to sound too much like a Project Trust lecture but I really am feeling the craziest range of emotions. One minute I’ll be jumping about thinking about seeing everyone at home then the next I’ll be sniveling to myself because I won’t be able to Apollo noodles (my favorite snack) anymore! One thing I know for sure. I CAN’T WAIT to have fresh milk again (powered milk for a year does not cut it) and having that first Irn Bru will be fantastic . . .

The weather here is horrific at the moment. Last night I had to wear a onezie fleece and woolly socks to bed and I still had to brace myself to get out of bed in the morning. Winter has really hit! Or maybe just Curepipe because we live up high where it’s as temperamental as Scotland. While everyone at home is sunbathing and firing up the BBQs. You all should be very smug indeed.

I’ll try update again before I’m back in Scotland – I’ll barely have any time left! Can’t believe how fast the time is going – it really does fly when you’re having the time of your life :D 

Peace and love.

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