Testimonies are published under the responsibility of the author. They are subject to validation: these will be published only if they comply, in form and substance the spirit of this day as defined in the International Charter for October 17.
Collective Witness of the Residents of the Port Louis Night Shelter
Yes, there is Development, but not for everyone. Give us a chance to contribute to it as well
For us, the temporary residents of the “Night Shelter”, if there is a reason for us being here, it's because of the problem of finding lodgings. We are here temporarily while waiting for a solution to our problems.
We would like to launch an appeal with regard to the housing problem.
We are saying that there is development, but not for everybody.
We realise that where there is exclusion, our human rights are not respected. Besides, the word “exclusion” shouldn't exist at all. This idea of excluding people should not exist.
It is said that the country is in the process of development, but there are always those who are falling through the cracks. Those living in extreme poverty know that better than most.
There are houses that have been built at the foot of the mountains (temporary lodgings). Every time it rains, there are landslides and the buildings collapse.
How many people have died there when there were those torrential downpours? Yet those buildings were put up as part of a development project.
Well, there is development, but what counts is that it lasts.
In order to get lodgings, we have to take out a mortgage over a period of 20 years. But we don't have permanent work. After 2 or 3 years, we find ourselves here again (in the night shelter).
In our country, most of the people doing small jobs aren't in work. Employers don't hire us, they prefer to recruit foreign workers. Why?
Because they are cheaper? Because they bring in more money? Because they work better? We don't even know why.
Suppose someone has been to prison, so he wants to turn over a new leaf. So he needs to work. But he is told “no, there is no solution because our past isn't desirable.” These days everything depends on morals. But don't you need money as well? Every day one needs money to live on. For everything in life one needs money. And that's why, in the long run, some start to steal and from that moment, we are considered as criminals. And then it's easy to succumb to despair, alcoholism, drugs …
Sometimes, even if there is work, the wages we are offered discourage us. There are even places you cannot enter with old slippers on your feet.
That's why we are saying that a lasting development is not for us. We have nothing to gain from it. 50% of us little people are in prison. Here, it's the law that rules supreme. If you raise your voice, you risk being put in jail again. But it is very rare for at least two people to sit down with us and to listen to us to prepare our message. Elsewhere, perhaps you won't find such a moment, you don't find it.
As far as we are concerned, lasting development is not taking place for us. For some, yes, it is good... But it should be done in a way that profits everyone.
We are confident that the government could change things because everything is in their hands and they know the situation.
For example, when there is a cyclone, the government helps the victims via the Prime Minister's Relief Fund. We believe that the State could ask the private sector to transfer a certain amount of money per month to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund to help fight poverty.
But however many people there are giving aid, it won't be easy to overcome poverty. If we think negatively we will always have problems, we need to cultivate a positive attitude. Working together, reflecting together, getting together to create a lasting development where everyone gets a part of the cake, rather than one taking one part and the other receiving just a small piece of sugar.
To shape our future, we want a lasting development on which we have left our mark.