Chelvin Ramsamy (Mauritius)

Youth Leader from Mauritius Combating COVID-19: SAREPTA Initiative

Passionate about making a positive contribution to society since his life-changing journey at the President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI Cohort 17) in South Africa in May 2019, Chelvin Ramsamy from Mauritius who works as Special Assistant Advisor (Regional Integration) at the AUC Bureau of the Chairperson of the African Union, currently sits on the International Executive Boards of the Africa-Asia Youth Foundation (Continent Director Africa) and the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (Regional Associate Southern Africa) and is the founder of Let’s Glow Organisation, has joined forces with some 10 other YALI Alumni and Mandela Washington Fellows from Mauritius to implement a noble collective cause from grassroots level: SAREPTA Initiative.

SAREPTA is a citizens’ initiative to offer food packs to vulnerable families who are not amongst the 35,000 beneficiaries on the Social Register of Mauritius and therefore cannot benefit from State assistance. Since the launch of SAREPTA, Mauritian citizens and businesses have responded very positively, both through food donations and generous monetary contributions to a bank account set up for that purpose. Their active support and solidarity have enabled the SAREPTA team to answer the plea of all these poor families. Chelvin is working collaboratively with the team – all young but highly professionals from a wide range of fields – as they make calls to needy families, prepare the food packs, request for donations and update the lists of beneficiaries. In particular, the initiative considers as a priority the conditions of female health poverty and this through distribution of sanitary napkins for beneficiaries facing “period poverty”.

Chelvin describes his experience as being unique, breathtakingly good and deeply enriching. Wearing a mandatory mask and respecting social distancing, this young leader who is travelling to all regions of the island for distributing basic necessities to the underprivileged ones finds the simple act of helping others deeply gratifying. Chelvin remains convinced that young people must demonstrate values of mutual support and compassion because this pandemic affects all. The risk is enormous though for Chelvin who is exposing his own live to prevent poor families from moving en masse in search of food. Yet, driven by a belief that bringing hope, smile and care in the lives of impoverished and homeless ones is always a blessing, Chelvin’s message is that everyone can show patriotism firmly rooted in love, solidarity and courageous determination by supporting the initiative.

The project has impacted countless lives – far exceeding their initial target of 800 families – and encouraging citizens to help the hungriest communities. Through SAREPTA Initiative, Chelvin is effectively answering President John Kennedy’s call: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

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