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Reunited after a quarter of a century, a group including thirty friends from James Toolsy primary school, in Curepipe, not only renewed their friendship, but also took up social service. Narrative.

Time, merciless, strives to erase everything in its path. Or almost. Because some memories resist its relentless wear and tear. This is the case of these bonds of friendship formed during childhood, which only ask to be rekindled. And this is precisely what Priya undertook by bringing together her classmates, 26 years after leaving the benches of the James Toolsy school in Curepipe.

This is how last Sunday, June 2, a dozen friends met, accompanied by their spouses and children. These reunions were not only an opportunity to revive old memories and share bursts of laughter. These childhood friends also chose to mark this day with a gesture of solidarity and generosity towards the beneficiaries of a shelter located in Plaines-Wilhems, to whom they offered lunch, and their company.

If time has taken its toll on their daily lives as schoolchildren, it has not been able to erase the bonds that united them. Some shared the same benches for only a few years, while others experienced a common schooling from Std I (Grade 1) to Std VI (Grade 6). The late Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) marks the end of their shared adventure at James Toolsy School. The paths of most of them diverge when they pass through the doors of the college. Only a few small groups remain united, continuing their studies in the same secondary schools, such as Hindu Girls' College and Sir Abdool Raman Osman SSS.

The years pass by, taking with them the memories of everyday school life. Former classmates lose sight of each other, only meeting by chance from time to time, exchanging a few nostalgic words. Perhaps some even brushed past each other without recognizing each other, victims of the veil of time.

We also searched and found other friends whom we had not met at all for the last twenty-six years.

Priya has not forgotten her friends. But through these random encounters, she notices that some of her classmates don't necessarily remember the others. “So when I created my Facebook account in 2009, I started looking for my classmates, especially those with whom I had finished my primary school years. It wasn't difficult to find them because almost all of them used their real names,” she says. “Little by little, I managed to find several friends and I created a group on Messenger to bring them all together. »

It doesn’t take long for virtual reunions to materialize in reality. Over the next two years, alumni of the James Toolsy School met a few times. They even invited their former teacher, Malick Firoz Saumtally, to join one of their meetings in 2011, thus reviving memories of a bygone era.

But life has its demands. Taken by their professional and family obligations, the friends gradually move away. Virtual conversations are becoming rare, meetings are limited to individual reunions.

Last April, Priya shared on the Messenger group a photo found on Facebook, showing schoolchildren in a class and on which was written “kot kisanla to ti p assizer dan lekol ou college et kisanla ti to bon kamarad?”. The response was not long in coming. A flood of comments invades the group, everyone trying to remember the identity of their neighbor in class. James Toolsy alumni look back with delight into the memories of their school years and their teacher with whom they are still in contact. Renewing, at the same time, bonds of friendship which had sometimes weakened over time and distance.

“We also talk about everything and nothing. What is certain is that everyone enjoys participating in the conversation. We also searched and found other friends that we had not met at all for the last twenty-six years. Seeing everyone's enthusiasm, and with the aim of allowing friends who are not on Facebook to participate too, we decided to move on to creating a group on WhatsApp,” relates Priya.

This is how a former classmate, Dharmesh Ramlugun, an adult and child cardiac surgeon based in France, joined the group. Sensitive to the condition of people in need, he suggests that the group of friends put themselves at the service of others. The first project will be to offer lunch and gifts as well as organize activities for residents of a children's shelter located in Plaines-Wilhems. The idea was welcomed and everyone pitched in, including friends abroad.

“Regardless of our personal and professional backgrounds, we all have human assets to highlight when it comes to helping those who are in a less comfortable situation than ours. It is not only about finding the financial means to do things, but also and above all, learning to reach out and give our attention to those in need,” explains Dr Dharmesh Ramlugun.

“Our life experiences have led us to feel empathy and compassion. The initiative in question, as small as it was, could only have done good, because a collective action of kindness always has a significant impact. Volunteering allows people facing difficult situations to maintain hope in the goodness of wealthier humans,” he continues.

This first activity, he said, constitutes only the first step towards other social projects which will be carried out thanks to the collaboration and dedication of all friends. In fact, the group is already looking into other projects for different recipients. This, while making sure to allow themselves their “us-time”…

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