Some months ago, my daughter (Katherine) gave me a book of photographs of Mauritius, titled Mauritius The Stone Age, by Jano Couacoud. In it are two photographs of an orphanage, and a short description, quoted below:
"The Government Orphan Asylum in Pamplemousses opened in 1859. The orphanage's role was to provide shelter and education for orphans so that they would be useful to the community. Orphans, following the epidemics that struck their parents, were collected at the Asylum. The majority were of Indian origin. There were also children of African and European descent."
In the 1850's cholera killed 3 500 people and in the 1860's malaria killed 32 000, a ninth of the population.
People barely had time to bury their dead, large numbers of funerals were proceeding at the same time all over the island between 1866 and 1868.
In 1865 floods killed 21 people. There was a terrible cyclone in 1868 that caused havoc in the impoverished villages. In 1892, one of the worst cyclones in the history of Mauritius killed 1 100, injured 2000 and made another 80 000 homeless. The country with a population of near 300 000 was brought to its knees.
The above information was obtained from an internet version of Sydney Selvons 2012 book, A New Comprehensive History of Mauritius, Volume 2.
On 2 January 2014, we had a close but harmless brush with Cyclone Bejisa. My wife, daughter (Jacqui) and I took a drive to Point Aux Piments to see and photograph the beach affected by this storm, which turned out to be unremarkable. On our way home to Piton, we passed the entrance to this abandoned orphanage, and we took a closer look at these buildings, that bear the dates 1864 and 1865. To put these dates into context, gold was discovered in Johannesburg in 1886.
We visited the site a total of three times in improving weather. The photographs displayed below are a selection of these images. Click on the image to advance to the next one.