SHIVANI PRIYAL GOPAUL *

Acoustics Engineer based

in Melbourne, Australia

Many Mauritians abroad are actively engaged in making their own efforts from several countries to help in the oil spill crisis Mauritius is currently facing. People have come together and are using the power of their networks to create a wave of solidarity from overseas. All Mauritians abroad are incredibly proud of the work the public in Mauritius is doing, and we want to magnify their efforts by doing our part, even from far away. SHIVANI PRIYAL GOPAULHowever, the collaboration with local authorities is crucial to enable this international movement to successfully assist in the operations. We are calling for the local authorities to facilitate the logistical and legal procedures so that help in the form of hair boom donations, PPE equipment, or other, can reach Mauritius in time.

Sharing the crowdfunding links and increasing awareness about the situation in Mauritius have enabled people from all around the world to help our island and bring attention to the ecological disaster that the country is facing due to the oil spill resulting from the MV Wakashio running aground on the reefs at Pointe d’Esny. However, we want to help in more tangible ways as well.

I am based in Melbourne, Australia and was feeling very helpless to see the disaster unfold and only be able to donate, but not physically help. I contacted Sustainable Salons on a whim to request hair boom donations for Mauritius. I was introduced to this organisation by my best friend Hashwina Vimalarajan, who recently donated her ponytail to Sustainable Salons for wig-making uses. The organisation was incredibly receptive and prompt to respond. The co-founder, Paul Frasca called me personally to discuss how to best get help sent to Mauritius promptly. It was heartwarming to see their eagerness to assist Mauritius. This renewed my belief that people do have power, no matter how small their network, no matter what the initiative is.

Since then, several Mauritians in Australia reached out to me and are actively engaged in working together to make this endeavour successful. Marie Eve Sauvage, Rachel Malepa, Christophe Monasie, Kalyanee Ramen, Yashwin Mahadea, Krishnee Appadoo, Shubham Bachoo, and Prisha Juddoo are some of the people I have directly communicated with. From contacting Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, ECOSUD, and Mauritian freight companies, to liaising with the right people in Mauritius, the collective efforts have been commendable. I wish to note that a large number of Mauritians abroad are doing their part and those mentioned are only the ones I have directly talked to. This follows from Marie Eve Sauvage‘s wonderful initiative of creating a Facebook group for Mauritians abroad, enabling us all to share the spirit of solidarity. Several country-based groups have emerged, namely Australia, UK, France, and Canada, to streamline and optimise the work and ensure efforts are concentrated on the current needs.

We are actively collaborating with local contacts to make the solidarity of Mauritians abroad turn into fruitful actions. My parents, Brinda and Nitish, as well as Marie Eve and Rachel’s respective families, have been the main point of contact, making calls and obtaining valuable information for us. Bhawna Atmaram proactively contacted Clarel Michaud from MC Easy Freight, who has kindly offered to help with logistics for the hair donations once these arrive in Mauritius.

It is wonderful to see the efforts of all Mauritians abroad and the ongoing willingness to use our international network to provide assistance to our nation. Seeing everyone come together to assist in the crisis is overwhelmingly positive. We need to keep the outpouring of solidarity going, while being mindful not to overload the local NGOs. Strategic help is key for this mission to be successful. We are very thankful of the Mauritian public and Mauritian NGOs for putting in maximal efforts to save our island.

For any Mauritians abroad who wish to join the efforts to help, please join “WAKASHIO – Oil Spill – Support our country, our people, from abroad” on Facebook.

* Contact me @ Shivani.oilspillhelp@gmail.com if you can be of any assistance.