On 10 December 2017, YUVA proceeded with the distribution of clothes to around 68 families at Longere Toler/Blanc, Baie du Tombeau. Although we are in 2017, I came to realise that there are still people who are living in deplorable conditions in our paradise island.
Along with Mrs Veronique who works for YUVA Baie du Tombeau, we, YUVANs, went door-to-door to meet these families and distribute clothes to them. Each and every home in Longere Tole is extremely small and crowded. As I was distributing the clothes around, I had the opportunity to peek into the houses and saw some tiny rooms with up to six people living inside. Nobody had kitchens or living rooms. Moreover, Mrs Veronique conceded that she knew of no families who had any toilet. To me, this was definitely the most insane fact about Longere that truly puts things into perspective. Most people use the open areas as toilets.
Mrs Veronique told us that all housing units in Longere Tole/Blanc are illegal. Almost all the houses are makeshift homes. They are in fact so fragile that they can collapse at any moment by the weight above it. Nothing that I saw around were clean. Absolutely nothing. Kids were walking barefoot, some without any clothes on them. Men and women alike were either sitting or sleeping on the soil. Not to mention stray dogs everywhere.
That said, it is hard for me to deny that the smiles I saw on the faces of these people, as we handed the clothes over to them, can simply never be forgotten. In fact, all of them were very collaborative, very kind to us. These people thanked us, although we were complete strangers to them. I could clearly see a ray of hope in their eyes.
The lesson that I learned today was that one should never take anything for granted. Appreciate everything God has given you in life. I would strongly urge everybody, Mauritians and foreigners alike, to come and see how people live in Longere Toler/Blanc. It is only then that they will get to realise how fortunate they are not to have been born and grown up in a place like this.
The way forward is to empower these people to come out of poverty. We live in a country built on opportunity. These people should come to know how to exploit these opportunities. The commitment of each and each of us is needed if success is to be achieved.
Seeing life unfold inside Longere Tole will definitely go down as the most eye-opening and real experience that I have had throughout my whole life.
By Chelvin Ramsamy