By Kishore Teelenah
It is a well-known fact that all Mauritians who came to the United Kingdom have made tremendous progress in one way or another. According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), white working-class men are 50% less likely to go to university than white working-class women. In contrast, immigrant families tend to take advantage of the golden opportunities to move up in society – something which could not have been possible at the time they left Mauritius. They came armed with an unshakable work ethic and a willingness to achieve at any cost. This article gives an account of two Mauritians who have made their relatives both in the UK and Mauritius proud. One quality that makes these compatriots stand out is their ability to adapt and embrace British society and integrate where some others have failed. Education has been seen as both life-changing and story-changing for them.
Karuna is a Mauritian-born lady who came to Britain in the late 1990s and like other newcomers, she started from humble beginnings. After getting married, she started a job at McDonald’s fast food restaurant and gradually worked her way up to become the manager. She set herself a higher standard by completing a course in English at Level 3. Karuna continued in her employment at McDonald’s at the head office to support her supervisor with administrative duties.
Karuna Ramanah receiving an Achievement Award for contribution to Mauritius Hindu Association Society
After the birth of her daughter, she continued to work part time to support her husband’s photography business at their studio. She was already an experienced kindergarten teacher in Mauritius and wanted to pursue her career in Primary Education. Karuna followed a Teaching Assistant course to start her new career in the school classroom. As she got further experience in this field, she was inspired to upskill to become a full-time Learning Support Assistant (LSA). While working as an LSA, she joined the Mauritius Hindu Association and helped with the administrative duties for many years. She was promoted to the role of Executive Assistant to jointly run the society with the committee members. In the meantime she continued to be a strong support for the Mauritius Hindu Association in promoting societal values and community work. Karuna is also a member of the Mauritius Telegu Association and proud to continue with her philanthropic activities.
Samila left Mauritius for Britain in late 1980s after getting married. She had already successfully completed her School Leaving Certificate from Mauritius and after arriving in London, she pushed herself to do further studies. She started with a secretarial course at Pitman College in Holborn. Samila went on to take two short courses in First Aid and Childcare. While appreciating the value of hard work and endurance, she pursued a study in Critical Thinking and Analysis at the University of East London.
In 1989, she worked as Housing Administrator dealing with housing applications, recording the statistics of income and expenditures. By 2008, Samila used her mathematics skill to work as an Account Assistant in a Nursing Care Home, collating all payments for the Finance Director. After five years, her skills and experience had prepared her to work at a Doctor’s Surgery in Barking, London. In the current Covid-19pandemic, she is at the forefront as a key worker where her knowledge and practice of health care is of utmost importance.
Samila Savomy and some of the members of the Mauritius Telegu Association
She had provided voluntary services to the Mauritius Telegu Association (MTA) for the past 28 years by attending their meetings as well as serving as vice-president. She was intensely involved with the administrative work. This also included making contacts with hundreds of members and non-members in promoting MTA. Part of the duties included monthly prayers in which Samila was quite proactive and well organised. A society cannot run without funds and her experience and sheer hard work for charity events helped MTA progress further. She is a talented cook and amongst other members provided meals for prayers and fundraising events.
The vibrant celebrations of Mauritius Independence day, Diwali, Sankranti and other religious ceremonies have been special among British-Mauritians. These would not be possible without proper administration and planning. As Mauritians love their traditional foods, Samila took a lead in preparing and cooking meals and snacks. Her much appreciated philanthropic work has been very useful to to several societies in support of the Mauritian communities. She has been a member of the Mauritius Telegu Association for 28 years and dedicated her time wisely while being a caring mother. Her relentless charity work was also shared with a Tamil Association where she supported the chair with administrative work and organising prayers and food.
Award given by Mauritius Hindu Association to MTA for their dedication and hard work in their contribution to society. From L to R: Mrs Daya Appiah, Mrs Rubina Naiker (Chair) and Ms Samila Savomy
Mauritian-born Kishore Teelanah, Section Manager for Science Further and Higher Education (London), has over 34 years of experience in teaching, learning and education management in Science having worked in many educational establishments at different levels. He has a special interest in Biomedical Sciences in such subjects as cancer and diabetes. He is also a mentor to final year Bioscience degree students at Kingston University.
* Published in print edition on 29 December 2020