Greetings from Mauritius

Mauritius is a small island floating in the Indian Ocean just east of Madagascar.  I visited Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, where I stayed for two days.  The official language is English; however, French is very commonly used in the media and throughout school systems.  There is no typical “Mauritian” looking individual; Mauritius varies just as the United States does and you will find a variety of Mauritians varying from Indian Mauritians, White Mauritians, Muslim Mauritians, etc. 

While in Mauritius I visited several organizations, homes, and councils as a part of my gender and international development course.  I visited a women entrepreneur council and saw how these women organize and work together in order to promote their products.  These products are hand-made and range anywhere from jewelry and baskets to soaps and wedding dresses.  I sat down with a female entrepreneur as she taught me how to assemble a bead bracelet.  I visited the Chrysalides in Bambou, a rehabilitation shelter which protects and helps women faced with problems such as domestic violence, alcoholism, drug addiction and women involved in the sex trafficking industry.  The women vary in ages and typically stay at this facility for a year.  They are taught skills which will help manage everyday life after they have completed treatment such as; cooking, cleaning, and sewing. 

Next was La Clairiere, a shelter run by nuns of Bonne Terre convent, where pregnant under-aged girls are cared for until they give birth.  The youngest girl at this convent was 14-years-old.  Depending on each girls situation with the father of the baby; she will either stay at Bonne Terre for months preceding giving birth or go home with the father and his family.  Another home run by nuns was Le Flamboyant, a home for female senior citizens.  The majority of the women spoke French and varied in ages.  The oldest woman was 95-years-old and there were even elderly mentally challenged women living at this home.  Lastly, I went to Kinouete Centre, a rehabilitation program for women released from prison or addicted to drugs.  It has been registered as an association since 2003.  They offer several services for the rehabilitation and counseling of women who live or have lived with the experience of incarceration.  The goal of the center is to help smooth the incarcerated females’ reintroduction into society.  Services are also offered inside prison; such as individual counseling, strengthening mother-child ties, family ties, as well as providing aid in the professional realm of reintegration. 

Overall, I was impressed by the extensive facilities Mauritius provided for women in the community.  Some facilities are run with government support and some without; despite monetary assistance, each establishment is working to make a long term difference in the lives of each woman.

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