Mahébourg Espoir Education Center: the abcd of the abandoned

These teenagers cannot read or write. Thanks to the Mahébourg Espoir Education Center, they were able to develop their diverse talents. Enter a school where love and empathy are the key words.

To look at them, they are like a flock of sheep. But these teenagers are in the classrooms. Or rather, containers. Learning to read and write is their primary mission. What they didn’t know when they were young. Not even the elementary abcd.

At the Mahébourg Espoir Education Center, there is love. Empathy. Determination. Hope. In the Papillon room, the young people are between 13 and 18 years old. They are in Grade 4. “They are dropouts in the education system. They can no longer follow the course. To us, they are comfortable but behind academically. We have to teach them visually, teach them the tables, ”explained Ginette Rabaye, one of the teachers. They are on table 4. On the wall, graphics, drawings …

Magdala is an art teacher. “The kids let out steam, I taught them to mix pastel colors, wax. They did wonders with their hands. Actually, looking at the works they did with their hands, from the retrieval of old newspapers, it is impressive.

The director, Annick Yeung, is the kingpin of this special school. The former director of Lorette’s college in Mahébourg gave him everything on his team. All children from the South. The NGO is funded by the National Solidarity Inclusion Foundation and sponsored by the private sector, including Vivo Energy.

“Here, everything is settled. This is serious. I wanted a good retirement, but they came to pick me up because I know the region and I want to help, ”Annick Yeung said. He is also looking for a replacement.

“This school helps neighborhoods in need. We also help families who are in financial difficulty, such as the La Chaux and Tôle estates. These teenagers who come to us usually don’t have lunch at home and they are happy to eat. Food is like bait, they come, eat, learn, have fun, make friends and cooperate with each other. It is a source of life, ”he said with a lot of softness in his voice.

Hand-crafted works by students without a strong academic background.

Sewing: young people start

They don’t know how to grip a feather, but hold the needle with amazing agility. Whether female or male, they spend themselves sewing. Marjorie Berthelot is in charge of this room and has twinkling eyes. “Young people have talent, you have to watch them. They make hand and needle and embroidery. They are very good.»

In the classroom named Anthurium, there is Grace. He was just in kindergarten. He cannot read or write. Nor his sweet first name. The ending may not be good, well not.

“I live in St-Hilaire, divorced my parents, I am 15 years old. I don’t know and here I know everything. I’m in class and I can now make sentences through numeracy and literacy, I understand tables and I want to be a seamstress, ”the young woman said, her hands busy with her embroidery needle and in his bed.

Michelle, she’s 16 years old. He attended Lorette College until Grade 9 in prevoc and lived in Beau-Vallon. “I want to be a pastry chef,” he said.

Teacher Hedwige Drack, a resident of Mahébourg, has been there since the center opened in 2011. “Some students felt obligated to come, while others did so for fun. We prepared them for an exam so they could take MITD courses, but it was a trauma, they were stressed, ”he said.

In the kindergarten

Little turn in kindergarten. It’s lunchtime. Sandra is the mother of these small pieces of cabbage, there are 23 of them aged between 3 and 5 years. “After the Wakashio sinking, three kindergartens were closed and parents could no longer reach kindergartens elsewhere. The MOL company, through I61, an international foundation, asked us to open a nursery wing within two years that it would cost until the Mauritian government subsidized us. Children need to eat and drink. We often offer food packs to their parents, ”says Annick Yeung.

The Mahébourg Espoir Education Center is more than just a school. It is a home of peace, joy and tenderness. A concept that should be promoted anywhere on the island.

circle the banana

This is a pudding of leftover bread from the week planned for breakfast on Friday.

There is a corner well worth visiting. First, aquaponics where vegetables, mint, lettuce and so on are grown. There are also fish.

Antonio took care of this little corner. He composted and brought sweet potatoes and other grains. It all ends at the plates of 63 people, including students and staff.

On the menu this Wednesday: “bred mouroum” soup and steamed liver and sweet plain yoghurt. And, for afternoon tea, biscuits and milk tea. On Friday, at breakfast, a pudding made of leftover bread from the week is waiting for the kids.

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