Do what you can for your country, do not wait till your country does something for you, and while waiting criticise it!

We thank God our reservoirs and boreholes are now fountains of joy. We will not complain about drought for quite a long time! In her fury, Berguitta overflowed canals and streams, turned rivers into raging torrents that flooded ground-level houses and small retail shops/businesses, damaged property and roads, uprooted trees, pulled down power lines and waterlogged agriculture.

We thank God we have social welfare centres to keep Mauritians, who took refuge there, safe and dry. If not, they could have put their lives in danger as Berguitta rained pitchforks and hurled gale-force winds at our island.

From around 3000, and as Berguitta stomped off to the surging sea, the number of refugees kept decreasing when the rain and wind calmed down and clouds turned from dark grey to grey white, as they started going back to their homes. In the midst of all of this, the biscuits and water bottles incident really hurt refugees. However, all the follow-up comments on social media prompted other people to give a helping hand.

Is not Berguitta a blessing in disguise? We have seen how Mauritians and various NGOs aided all these refugees with food, clothes and mattresses. The support is still going on with the 200 or more Mauritians still in the welfare centres. All of us think and act as Mauritians when faced with a catastrophe. Walls of superior identities and beliefs tumble down as our hearts beat in compassionate unison.

Let us not forget the police force, fire services, hospital staff, MBC, media and volunteers who have really helped many people in need. We thank God we are not a war-torn country. Let us also thank the authorities for what they have done for the refugees. We thank them for the mattresses, biscuits and water. In other countries, refugees face hunger and thirst and they have to look for shelter by walking miles and miles; and on their precarious journey may die.

We thank journalists for informing us about what is happening in the country and helping the authorities to improve services, and if not wipe out pockets of poverty across the island, at least improve the lives of the poorest among the poor and squatters.
Maybe instead of planning to go to Mars, let us make earth better. It would make more sense to build solid houses for the poor. Do not give people gifts, especially the young and able-bodied, give them fish when they are hungry and immediately after a net to fish! Give them work and let them pay a yearly fee when they become house owners. Right now, come rain or shine, we do not need Smart Cities but smart houses for the destitute. After that, the authorities concerned can build a Smart City.

Educate squatters and poor people especially when they are young men and women who should be working and not wallowing in self-pity. Let us be like ants. Ants have shelter all year round against sweltering heat and biting cold because they are always working. They do not fight but find a solution when disaster hits – and disaster is an almost daily occurrence in the life of an ant. The key to their success? Teamwork. Teamwork means survival and fighting means death to the ants.

Let this be our motto: “Do not blame others when something bad happens to us.” Let us try to solve the problems first. If we can partly solve them, at least they make us stronger, resourceful and more independent. Then seek help. If when we seek help through the proper channels we do not get it, thenceforth it is right to seek justice.

Brinda Runghsawmee