Development has a humane face when investors show real commitment to uplift the communities hosting their projects. La Balise Marina, an integrated resort in Black River spearheaded by ENL Group, has spared no efforts to live up to this proven fact. A United Nation team led by the island’s resident coordinator Leyla Tegmo-Reddy, recently took stock of the success of the development’s social investment.
The objective behind the UN delegation’s trip to Black River was to learn from the successes of La Balise Marina and to see how the knowledge and observations thus gathered could be used to render the UN’s own initiatives for community development more effective. This learning trip was undertaken more specifically with regards to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) community development program in Mauritius for the period 2013-2016. Mrs Tegmo-Reddy was accompanied by Analyst Yan Hookoomsing, Program Assistant Renooka Beejan and NUNV Project Officer Priscilla Ravaton.
The delegation visited the main social integration initiatives undertaken by La Balise Marina and its social partners. It was thus able to witness the hardships faced by the less fortunate components of the Black River community. It was also in a privileged position to learn about their aspirations and to assess how the helping hand put forward by La Balise Marina was enabling them to slowly rise above the dreariness of their everyday life. A brief overview of the La Balise Marina Social Plan, presented at the program’s coordination centre known as La Maison de La Balise, kicked off the site visit.
The main social partners involved, from social workers to representatives of local authorities, religious organisations and the police force, had come together to welcome Mrs Tegmo-Reddy and her team. The cohesion of the community and the prevailing spirit of unity did not go unnoticed by the visitors. The itinerary imposed itself. A tour of Black River village where NGOs ETM/Caritas and Pont de Tamarinier are at work helping young school dropouts and doing housing upgrades for families in the region- both projects being financially supported by La Balise Marina – was followed by a trip to Petite Rivière Noire, the village next door. Here, the delegation had a firsthand account of living conditions in the village. Daniel Patate, leader of an association of local activists named Amba pié (literally ‘under the tree’), seized the opportunity to launch the Ti Riviere Nwar pe bouze initiative.
This community development program is also supported by La Balise Marina and NGOs LEAD and ICIM. He explained that Petite Rivière Noire being such a remote community, its development is often overlooked. “Our village was excluded from all development, completely forgotten it seemed to us, until such time when La Balise Marina started to implement its social integration program” he said. Black River and Petite Rivière Noire totally enjoyed the attention. The communities went out of their way to welcome the visitors.
A number of activities were staged for their benefit, namely:
- Presentation of the conclusions of a brainstorming session held by the villagers to identify the drivers of development in their area. - Exhibition of drawings by Zenfants amba Pié on the theme Nu vilaz, Nu Rev (Our Village, Our Dream) - Visit to an lady who lives off octopus fishing - Inauguration of Informatique pou Nu tou a project by the NGO AIESEC. AISEC offered the village three computers and trained three young operators to guide the villagers in using the material - Culinary exhibition by women from Petite-Rivière-Noire, showcasing the special culinary culture of the region - Exprime Nu Talan show - sega dance and songs, slam by an 11-year old on the perils of smoking… the young villagers showed off their talents with pride.