From29th September to 9th October, a group of 8 pupils of the GPL Centre, accompanied by 4 teachers, went on an educational trip to Mauritius. The first new experience was the flight instead of the usual sea voyage, and our thanks to the staff of Air Mauritius for their patience and care.
Our Commissioner for Sports, Mr. Mael, organized lodgings for us at Flic en Flac Outdoor Centre in Mauritius. These premises are right on the beach and convenient for shops and buses. As all of our pupils have free bus passes due to their disabilities, we were able to travel freely, and on the whole everyone was helpful and respectful of our children, especially Rajesh, who is blind.
We visited Casela zoo, which has greatly improved its infrastructure, its animal enclosures, and the viewing facilities for the increased number of animals. Greetings to Sebastien, and all the other Rodriguans who work there. A Great day out!
Thanks to Kathy and Eileen, we visited the salt pans at Tamarin, and Gros Cailloux adventure park, with a mini commando course perfect for young children – even Rajesh completed it with the help of an inventive assistant who guided him over the most difficult parts with discretion and care. I regret that I didn’t note her name.
The Terra Foundation offered us a day at L’Aventure de Sucre and SSR Botanical Gardens, with lunch at their high class restaurant. Our lessons in table manners proved their worth! Thanks to Marie Annick and her team.
The children were touched by our visit to the APDA School for the Deaf, and the very warm welcome we received from the staff there, who then took us to visit Trou aux Cerfs, the extinct volcano at Curepipe, and then dropped us off at the Glass Gallery in Phoenix. Thanks to you all for your friendship – which will be renewed when you come to visit Rodrigues soon.
The 10 days flew by with time for shopping, family visits, and meals at KFC (none in Rodrigues so a must for every trip to MRU).
A special thanks to Mr. Dev, responsible for the Centre at Flic en Flac, and to all those who stopped us just to say hello.
Another successful trip, and we will start fund-raising for the next one when we come back to school in January 2016.
Thursday 15th October is the International Day of the White Stick for blind people. To mark this occasion, Mr. Gonzague Pierre Louis, himself blind, organized a walk round Port Mathurin for all those blind and severely visually impaired of Rodrigues. We set off from the GPL Centre with Gonzague and 4 children, accompanied by their teachers and Constable Zameer. Isabelle, a reporter from MBC, the local television station, recorded the event which stirred the curiosity of many. Other than Gozague, who walks through the town to work everyday at CareCo, no-one is usually seen with a white stick.
This activity was followed by a presentation of white sticks by members of LIONS Club, and a commitment by their club to sponsor classes in mobility, and support the blind in other ways too.
Last Friday, 21st August, three of our pupils made their First Communion in an emotional ceremony in our local church, with Pr Alex, in the presence of their family, friends, and the pupils and staff of the GPL Centre.
Here is what I said as way of introduction to the Mass:
Nous rassemble ici aujoudhui pour prier avec trios enfants tres specials – Laeticia, Veenasha et Barthelmy – qui pou recevoir Jesus pour la premiere fois ce matin.
Dieu ti cree nou “a son image”. Meme si nous pas parfait – et ena qui ene ti peu plus imparfait qui les autres – Dieu ti trouve qui li ti cree nous ‘tres bon’.
Dans le corps et la tete imparfait des ces enfants ena ene lecoeur parfait, qui rempli d’amour et d’innocence.
Nous prier qui zotte resenti ca l’amour qui Jesus ena pour zotte, et qui zotte rencontre dimoune qui pou respecter zotte difference et jamais abuse lors zotte innocence.
The GPL Centre celebrated its 20th anniversary with an Open Day on 23rd April.
At the end of the school term, we organized a day of fun activities for the children – and the staff of the GPL Centre.
Of course, we had the famous ‘mange boudoute’ competition.
Emilie, Hillary and Brigila supported the Yellow team.
Even the teachers had to put their hands into pots full of nasties!
During the second term of 2015, the staff of the GPL Centre visited the homes of all 42 of our pupils to get to know the families, and to help us to understand some of their difficulties and stimulus.
It was a rewarding experience for us and made for some interesting outings to parts of the island we had never been.
There were some slippery slopes, but some lovely families who welcomed us to their humble dwellings.
And some enjoyable lunches at new restaurants.
(Left to Right):
Pennina, Loraise, Emma (our volunteer) Shobna, Savin (our chauffeur), Jean Paul (a former pupil who now helps Savin pick up our little pupils in the school van every day), Franchette (our cook), Carina, and Agnes.
We also collected lots of new plants for our school garden.
At the end of 2014, the GPL Centre was finally officially recognized as a Special Needs School by the government and local authorities. This has been a long-term goal of the Centre which is now 21 years old. Among other advantages, recognition means that we are given a Grant-in-Aid each month from the Rodrigues Commission for Education. However, this grant is only an ‘aid’ and does not cover the totality of the expenses of the Centre and its 39 pupils and 7 teachers.
Unfortunately, two of our main funders have decided that, with the grant from Education, they no longer need to help us and thus have withdrawn their support. This leave us in rather a precarious position as, at the moment, we do not have guaranteed finances for this year, and are busy writing projects and sending out letters of assistance to all our contacts.
4 of our older pupils have left this year to follow a three year course at the “Centre Agricole Frere Remy” nearby. However, we already have seven new pupils:
Alexia, 10 years old, who was born prematurely and thus has developmental delays. As well as being small and immature, she has a visual impairment and learning difficulties, so she was finding it very difficult to cope in her primary school class. She is a friendly, inquisitive little girl who has settled in and is working well at her own level.
Peter, 5 years old, has delayed speech and behavioural problems as well as learning difficulties. He has begun to understand that inappropriate behavior is not appreciated in the Centre, and to accept our discipline – the first step towards helping him to concentrate and to learn.
Clery, 5 years old, has very little spoken language, as well as other developmental delays. As he did not attend pre-primary school from the age of 3, he has missed the social interaction of other children as well as the important pre-school activities that prepare a child for school. He is now happily catching up on these skills which will allow him to move on academically.
Barthelmy, now 7 years old, attended the GPL Centre for several years until he had a severe epileptic attack in August, 2013, which left him almost like a new baby, unable to move alone. He is now back on his feet, somewhat unsteadily, and has little hand control, but enjoys the social interaction with the other children.
Rosedelima , aged 8, has just moved in with her aunt after the death of her grandmother with whom she lived. Her new school immediately realized her difficulties and asked for her transfer to the GPL Centre. She is academically about year one of primary, but a friendly, helpful girl who is willing to make an effort.
Elie, aged 3, was born weighing 955gms, with developmental and intellectual delays. He has just begun to walk unaided, and has not yet developed spoken language. However, he is an inquisitive little boy who organizes everyone and makes his ideas known. Despite the fact that he has not used his voice for three years, he has already begun to vocalize through play activities, and I am confident that he will talk in the future.
Yann, aged 5, has been transferred from his first year of primary school due to his uncontrollable behavior in class. He is a happy, inquisitive little boy who loves to ask questions. However, he has some academic delays which need to be dealt with.
We took advantage of the cooler weather to take our pupils to the top of Mt. Limon, the highest ‘mountain’ on the island, reaching 398m!!