The life-changing gifts I received during my first intense ‘Week-End CADO’: “You are a valuable present for yourself and for everyone because you are loved and understood. We all are, never forget this.”
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- Edad 22
Hola amigos! :)
First, I apologise for my 2 weeks of absence. I’m slowly getting
back on track and feeling better!
I’ll be honest - it was going to be my first retreat ever and the
thing is, I was going there all alone and I hesitated to make it
as I feared not being able to mingle and click with the
youngsters there, finally find myself alone, home-sick and
uncomfortable despite the promise of intense sharing. Clinging to
that promise was my first step towards upcoming my fears and
trusting every soul I was going to meet there. They all certainly
have something to give that is worthy of receiving. It changed my
whole perspective and encouraged me to finally pack up late, jump
in a taxi with my huge luggage and head to the "Foyer Fiat" - the
hall of residence, found at Petite-Rivière, without looking
The first key moments…
I reached there one hour late, recorded my presence and received a warm welcome – I felt their good vibes. I met the other young participants, the elders and the Positive Peers – the animators of the whole session & young members of Cazado - a sub-group of the team LacazA, but no sign of little children running and screaming everywhere. I realised I had no idea what to expect next. The session started by a little dance lesson to help us break the ice and get comfortable. That was pretty awkward at first but it ended up with bright laughter and we felt good even though I was still very shy. One thing was sure – we felt that they started to embrace our trust with care. One hour later, a ballad was playing during the next session and my heart started to feel heavy but I didn’t want to let the smile down. One girl started crying, the tension in the room was palpable already. The emotional roller-coaster began here… I wish I was prepared for this as at the end of retreat, I was physically and emotionally drained and it took me 2 weeks to recover from this deep experience. But confidentiality is part of the surprises around the ‘Week-End CADO’.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” — Mother
Two hours later, it’s like I received an awakening slap – I was utterly wrong about my first ideas. Gradually and then, all at once, all preconceived opinions about each other and prejudicial barriers fell down and became non-existent. The atmosphere had changed and what followed was emotionally rich with heart-breaking life stories, tears, suffering, hurt, anger, truthfulness and compassion. Seeing the pain in their eyes and hearing how their voices were shaking and suddenly broke, crushed my heart into pieces. No one found time to judge anyone, we were just here listening, receiving, feeling and waiting for our turn to speak and share a snatch of our personal story with everyone, while hoping not to feel vulnerable and break into tears in front of them.
I realise the retreat was also meant to awaken our humanity through our humanness and encourage us to be kind to everyone that crosses our way for we all have our own battles. I couldn’t hold my tears, I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t expect at all to melt down and cry so much. I started to love them at that moment and most importantly, I realised how lucky and blessed I am. Despite our life struggles that help us grow in maturity, we surely don’t carry the whole world’s misery on our shoulders. The week-end was full of comforting hugs, compassionate smiles and information, sense of responsibility, laughter, singing, dancing, life lessons, care, healing, faith, hope, surprises, gifts, love.
“Prevention is better than cure.”
We've had the privilege to attend their informative, interesting presentations on life lessons and mainly on their prevention programs against social ills, serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and drug abuse leading to addiction, downfalls, problems, numerous crimes as well as loss of identity, dignity and even humanity. I'll never be too thankful for we received a special guest, beautiful & bubbly who shared her life story with us, talking about her past decisions that had led her nearly under a grave. She is an ex-drug addict, an ex-sex worker, living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and she is, to my eyes, a true survivor. Thanks to the help of the organisation and to her willingness to get back on her feet and take control of her life, she now has a job, she is married, she is under methadone treatment, and she strives to stay clean – “it’s an everyday battle”. She's looking forward to have a home and re-connect with her children. Life hasn’t always been fair to her and she claims that she is now back from hell and ready to live her life to the fullest. She always thought, back then, that she would die on the street all alone. This woman is the living proof that we all have the right to a second chance. Her strength is an inspiration to us. A big thanks to her, may her soul be blessed.
“You think you can’t? Of course, YOU CAN!” — Our motto in the
At the end of the week-end, we received a certificate of participation to the session on Self-Esteem, Capacity Building in relation with HIV/AIDS and drug abuse. We've been encouraged to believe in our potential to achieve great things and be good human beings. Whenever we feel weak and incompetent, we should remember that anything is possible. “Trying is better than giving up,” said Sean. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King have been quoted as great inspirations. Our motto in Mauritian Creole is “Na pa kapav? Bizin kapav!” I will always think of it whenever I need to.
The word CADO in ‘Week-end CADO’ comes from the French word cadeau meaning gift and here, it holds 4 French words: C stands for Capacité meaning Capacity, A stands for Amour meaning Love, D stands for Don de Soi meaning Self-Giving and O stands for Océan de Bonheur meaning Ocean of Happiness. It describes the purpose of the retreat. This is what they gave to us as long-life gifts, what they taught us and what we absolutely need to cherish and give to people around us from now on.
Where it all started…
My close friend, Dean invited me to participate to the 9th session of a “life-changing” retreat called the Week-end CADO from the 1st - 3rd of August 2014, organised by LacazA (not, LakazA, my mistake) which is a sub-operating group of the NGO called Groupe A de Cassis (Group A from Cassis) which devotionally militates against social scourges and provides prevention programs and help against HIV/AIDS and use of drugs amongst others. (Lacaz in Mauritian creole means home). I imagined the retreat to consist of informative talks, games, activities, jams, laughter and a distribution of gifts to unlucky children. Do you realise how wrong have I been? When everything was dedicated to us...
My inner experience...
Dear readers, I didn’t know that I was embarking on an overwhelming, emotionally-intense, rich, disturbing and life-changing journey with such stunning, fragile and at the same time, strong souls. I do cherish the memory of their faces, their smiles, their stories and the part of intimacy they chose to share – their gifts, are preciously kept in my heart. I pray the Universe to bless them, guide them into the light, help them during their everyday battles and make them know that they are loved, that they are important beings despite their past and all its injustice. I weigh my words.
My eyes are full of tears right now. Back then, I didn’t take into account but I was one of them with my own brokenness, fears, strengths, beauty and story. I wasn’t there only to help and self-give as if I was tough enough to stand on my own feet all the way and help them stand firm through their storms. No, I was there mainly to receive, to be helped, to be listened to, to be cared for, to be given support during my own inner storms. At the end of the day, I realised that I matter too and that I have the right to express my feelings and to be listened to - there are people out there who understand me. I’ve always been a listener, I’m not used to open my heart to an attentive ear but I know now it's important for me to talk and exteriorise what I feel – I’m no superhuman, it applies to me too.
THANK YOU to the Rungen family - Dean, Sean, Ragini, Cadress and to the whole CADO family. “I am loved, I am important, I do matter and yes, I can!”
Last important message:
I encourage every young Mauritian to experience the Week-End CADO school of life. It can only have a positive impact on your everyday-life only if you make the choice. The sessions are held in April and August. For any world citizen who wishes to come to our island and participate, I’m sure you are most welcomed too. Anyone interested? Message me and I’ll put you in contact with LacazA.
PS. Be prepared to receive YOUR gifts which I’m moulding with
love. I will send them to you in my next up-coming article.
Thank you to have given me some minutes of your time. I’m open to any question, suggestion, share and comment.
Light, peace ☮ & love,