By Kishore Teelanah
Almost all Mauritians who came to the United Kingdom have made tremendous progress in various ways. This article gives an account of three more Mauritians who have made an impact in Britain and abroad. Hopefully, these stories should inspire other fellow Mauritians and their children. One quality that makes these compatriots stand out is their ability to adapt and embrace the British society and integrate where some others have failed.
Like many women, Soomitra accompanied her husband to the UK in 1979, to an unknown country and culture. Gradually, she improved her standing and experience after working in London for several years in the Civil Service as an administrative officer, and other public sector organisations in London where she specialised in managing Equality & Diversity in workplace and the wider community.
After a brief spell in entrepreneurship, Soomitra held a string of jobs including management in Equality and Diversity and also learnt Spanish. But her heart was in Equality & Diversity in which she had most experience. In her past and current organisations, she had given regular training to staff at all levels about Equality and Diversity as well as performing beyond expectation in many of her jobs.
Mrs S Kawal, as a mature student graduating for her MA in Equality& Diversity Theories & Management (2013)
Furthermore, Soomitra became an Equality and Diversity and Recruitment Manager in a Further Edcucation college. She is a resilient woman and, despite being a mother of three, and assuming full household responsibilty with no support, she also managed to persue a successful career and her own personal development whereby she achieved her Master’s degree at the same time as when her daughter grauduated in 2013.
What makes her stand out is her calmness and her dignified approach to the trials and tribulations of her life. She is currently an Organisational Developmental & HR (Equality & Diversity) Adviser for the National Health Service. She had also kept on moving on to the next challenge, having founded her own HR business.
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Mrs Rajni Hurnam
Rajni Hurnam came to the UK in 1972 with her husband. Now a widow, she has made a lot of progress where many have not treaded. Rajni started to work as an administrator but had a keen interest in translation of Hindi-English. She became a registered translator as well as a Chaplain in hospital, where she facilitated translations for many Asians (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh).
Rajni’s other love was her culture and serving her community – and hence her other role of being a Hindu priest fitted her personality as well. Over and above these commitments, she amazingly also got involved with charity work for Cancer Research. She wholeheatedly raised funds for the Marie Curie association by means of dinner/ dance functions and musical events.
Rajni is a very caring and humble lady who worked opposite shifts to her husband’s in order to look after their four children. Her charity work became so successful that she was recognised in the programme ‘Out and About’ on Zee TV.
Mrs Rajni Hurnam and her family
Furthermore, her heart was in legal studies and she found a job as a Paralegal Admininistrator in a Solicitor’s firm for five years. After that she went back to work in the NHS where she left off to continue her translalation and charity work. Through her various contacts she is a well-known and respected member within the Mauritian community both in London and Mauritius.
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Mr Ryad Khodabocus
Ryad Khodabocus award for Winner of the 21 for 21 (21 Leaders for the 21st Century) in 2018 and 2018 Luton Best Award
Mohammed Ryad Khodabocus is also a very talented and driven man. He left Mauritius after completing his first degree in Social Work and continued with a Master’s degree in Psychology of Health & Management.
He took a job in Luton Town Hall with an organisation called Luton Council of Faiths and has been working for over 10 years. He has helped to foster community harmony, engaging in various pioneering community development works, and advises the authorities on policy and community relations issues.
Ryad won several awards in his town, county and nationally for his work in an array of disciplines ranging from sports, well-being, environment and ecology, Fair-trade, Arts & culture, Peace events and Vigils, Inter-faith dialogue, Youth Leadership. He has also been working with a number of schools to promote an education of peace and harmony, connecting science and arts with spirituality.
Ryad at No 10 with the Fairtrade Foundation Officers CEO Michael Gidney
Due to his hard work, Ryad is now a lead figure in Peace, Inter-faith, Inter-culture work, being in the field for over 10 years. In 2018 he was awarded the ‘21 for 21’ as one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in the UK for reconcilliation. He is currently working on ‘Unleash your Peace Genius’.
One of the directors of Luton Council of Faith said that “Ryad is exceptionally gifted with imagination, creativity and entrepreneurship. He has poineered numerous community interfaith projects often combining ethics with sports and science to build bridges in one of the most challenging and diverse towns in the country. Ryad’s work had focussed on increased dialogue and breakdown barriers”.
With his diverse skills and experience, Ryad promoted Fairtrade products across faiths successfully in Luton, which became a fairtrade town on 2011. Ryad received an Outstanding Achievment Award from the Fairtrade Foundation UK in 2012. Due to his activities in many community projects, he was nominted for Citizen of the Year at Luton Best Awards to become a Honorary Friend of the Luton Polish Community.
Ryad Khodabocus with Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge recognising Ryad’s work
He teaches about diversity of religions and cultures, promoting kindness and tackling prejudices especially towards those who look different.
Hats off to Ryad to promote peace and harmony to the community; the UK needs more people like him.
* Published in print edition on 31 May 2019