By: One Pusumane, Sunday Jerome Salami, and Emmanuel Nuesiri
On Wednesday 14 November 2018, the African Leadership College (ALC) Mauritius welcomed 12 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to its NGO fair tagged ‘out of the classroom and into the community’. It was organized by the ALC ‘Impact Lab’ team, Lyndon Rego and Emmanuel Nuesiri, with the support of Marie Annick Auguste of TERRA Foundation and the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme (UNDP GEF SGP). The fair was part of a series of events marking the ‘global entrepreneurship week’ at ALC.
The NGO fair is a part of initiatives taken to deliberately build a relationship between staff and students of ALC, and local communities in Mauritius, through partnering NGO champions on the island. It also created a space for ALC students to think about entrepreneurship as inclusive of both for-profit ventures and not-for-profit NGOs providing innovative solutions to the everyday problems people encounter in local communities in Mauritius.
Here are reflections from two ALC fourth year Social Science students, One Pusumane and Sunday Jerome Salami who participated in the event. The names of the 12 NGOs at the fair is at the end of the students’ reflections.
Actualizing ‘Passion’ is a short distance from my campus
We all have passions – that is something or cause, we wish to pursue with all our heart. I am passionate about gender rights activism and I am always on the lookout for opportunities to make society better for women. The way I conceptualized the change I want to make was not so clear, however, the NGO fair helped me to see that there are many opportunities and support for students like to me to work on gender issues in local communities in Mauritius. All 12 NGOs had opportunities for gender activism and also for interlinked issues like poverty alleviation. I found that I was able to connect theories on gender, poverty and other social problems studied in the classroom, with the work the NGOs were doing in local communities. Poverty was no longer a term that was contended by different authors but a phenomenon that these NGOs were combatting in a very committed way. Being passionate is not a destination but a journey and I now see that beyond the confines of the classroom, and just a short distance from my campus in Pamplemousses lies opportunities for me to be a changemaker. Actualizing the change, I want to see in the world, will require effort but half the work has been done by these amazing NGOs and all that is required is for me to meet them halfway.
Connecting and making social impact in local communities is not hard
It’s much simpler than we think! All the NGOs at the fair expressed a need for volunteers, material and financial support. Students at ALC aspire to be leaders solving Africa’s problems in innovative ways, volunteering with local NGOs in Mauritius is a great starting point to build leadership skills. It will provide ALC students opportunities to empathize with local communities and trial run our innovative ideas to solving social problems. Spending all our time in the classroom, learning social theories, some of which are from colonial times and patriarchal, runs the risk of alienating us students from daily real-world challenges around us. In my view, learning means ‘connecting the dots beyond the classroom’ and that comes with efforts of interacting with local communities in which we are based. We can do this by not just connecting with the NGOs at the fair but following through by making time to volunteer with them. So I ask my fellow students: what efforts are you putting into your ‘out of the classroom and into the community’ experience?
Sunday Jerome Salami
It is Possible!
As I moved across the hall and interacted with the NGOs present at the fair, I was curious to discover what motivated them to start, what challenges they are facing, and how are they have been sustaining themselves? The responses I received, kindled a sense of hope in me and belief that anything is possible. These NGOs started out small, their members volunteered their time for a cause they were passionate about, and in no time, they have become a force on the Island, impacting individual lives and communities. This reminds me of the famous quote by Alexander the Great that states that “there is nothing impossible to him [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][or her][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]who will try.” I left the hall deeply inspired to act on my passion and dreams of creating access to education for deprived people in my home country, Nigeria, as a contribution to reducing poverty. I plan to take initial steps in this direction by volunteering and making myself available to some of these NGOs impacting communities across Mauritius and partnering with them on specific projects they are carrying out. I believe that these experiences will go a long way in preparing me for the future in terms of creating a sustainable impact in my own community back at home in Nigeria.
Below are the 12 NGOs who participated at the ALC NGO fair (click on the name of each NGO to learn more about who they are):
Action for Economic and Social Development – College St. Gabriel (AESD): The Action for Economic and Social Development aims at empowering youths and secondary school drop-outs from vulnerable communities.
Amour sans Frontières Mauritius: Amour sans Frontières is an association dealing with children with severe disabilities and creating schooling opportunities for them so they can thrive and achieve their dreams.
Association de Developpement Pamplemousses (ADP): The aim of this organization is to reduce social inequalities by providing families with a more equitable start in life and to acquire basic competences to become independent and responsible citizens of the country.
CARITAS: Caritas Mauritius works to rehabilitate poor and marginalized groups through an action of love and proximity by welcoming and listening to them, visiting and accompanying them, so that they may rediscover their dignity and build together a fair and united community.
Edycs Epilepsy Group: Edycs Epilepsy Group is an NGO with the aim of assisting people with epilepsy through advocacy, provision of free medication, access to quality healthcare, and campaigning for changes in the attitudes towards epilepsy.
Link to Life: Link to Life provides counselling and support to anyone affected by cancer and their families. They also create public awareness on the causes and preventions of cancer in Mauritius and overseas.
LOVEBRIDGE; Lovebridge is an organization that aims to fight poverty and bring empowerment to poor households through their 6 main fundamental, interconnected pillars—Education, food, employment, housing, health and psychological development of people.
SAFIRE: SAFIRE works with street children in creating specialized education for them that focuses on structuring their personality, improving the cultural education of street children and instilling in them the values of being responsible citizens.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH): SYAH is a regional organization that mobilizes, and empowers young people of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Africa and Asia, with the aim of combining expertise across these islands in the development of a more sustainable planet.
SOS Children’s Villages Mauritius: SOS Children’s Villages aims to build families for children in need, and help them shape their own futures to be well positioned to develop their communities in the future.
T1 DIAMS: T1 Diams is an organization that helps diabetic patients and their families to be able to learn about the disease and how to manage the condition of the patient at home.
Youth United in Voluntary Action (YUVA) Mauritius: YUVA Mauritius runs several projects on the island with the aim of sustaining the well-being of children and young people, especially the most vulnerable, in Mauritius.
*Pictures from the event can be accessed here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]