First trip to the cinema for 68 Mauritian children

On last April 20th, 68 children from Bois Marchand in Mauritius went to the cinema for the first time in their lives.

The Mauritius Telecom Foundation, in cooperation with the Junior Chamber International Port Louis, organised this cultural outing for children from the Bois Marchand region. After lunch at the Bois Marchand community centre, the children went to the Aapravasi Ghat, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site since 2006. There, they had an exciting time listening to the story of the little Rajah, who left his native village of Patna in 1885 with his parents in the hope of finding a better life in Mauritius.

 

 

And so they discovered the Aapravasi Ghat (in Hindi aapravasi means immigrants and ghat translates as temporary shelter), the place where the immigrants used to land in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Our young friends trod in the footsteps of no less than 500,000 workers who landed there and then climbed the 14 steps that marked the end of their long voyage from India. The visit continued with the baths where the travellers were able to rid themselves of the dirt accumulated during the journey, and the plain stone office that served as a centre for the first administrative and medical formalities, before a compulsory period of quarantine. The children also discovered some completely renovated areas: the offices of the Protector of Immigrants, the quarters for the Sirdars, the seven room hospital, the operating block, the stables, the kitchens with their fireplace and the toilets. The children took a lively interest in the explanations given about this place that marked the history of Mauritius.

 

 

After this cultural and historical visit, the children were taken to the Star Cinema in Caudan to see the film Julie, which was produced in Mauritius with the participation of around one hundred artists from Mauritius and Rodrigues. Most of the children present were going to the cinema for the first time in their lives. They were spellbound by the big screen, as explained by 11-year-old Vinasha, for whom “going to the cinema is not the same as watching a film at home, because you can see the actors better”. As the children reacted to the film and immersed themselves in the adventures of Julie, their laughter rang around the cinema. “I liked seeing the beautiful landscapes of Mauritius through the eyes of Julie” said 12-year-old Damien, “and, like Dr. Wong in the film, I am very proud of being Mauritian. I also learned that it takes peace and harmony to live well together”.

 

 

After the showing, the children had the pleasant surprise of meeting the actors and actresses from the film, who were waiting for them in front of the cinema. It was a great occasion for sharing, laughing together, taking photos and signing autographs. The children went home with their heads full of memories.

Bashir Mahamode, Mauritius Telecom Foundation

Mauritius Telecom is part of the Orange Group.

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