VIJAY SHAH via Le Défi Media
The small Indian Ocean island of Mauritius may not have the clout of many other much larger countries when it comes to producing people that can be defined as ‘great’ and ‘multitalented’, but that does not mean that Mauritians are not capable of reaching those dizzy heights.
Enter Bagooaduth Kallooa. He has been described by Le Defi, one of Mauritius’ most widely read newspapers, as ‘a man of many talents’. He began his working life as a nurse working in patient care on the west coast of Mauritius, inspired by his humble origins, and his desire to help the poorer parts of society who rely on the island republic’s government-run hospitals. Kallooa’s talent and professionalism was quickly noticed by the health managers of Flacq Hospital, who readily promoted Kallooa to the position of head nurse, a role he still holds.
Bagooaduth Kallooa also became keenly involved in the local trade union movement, as he understood the importance and hard work of looking after patients, where there is a major requirement of patience, sacrifice and a good dose of determination to heal the sick. He also understood, as a nurse himself, that he and his colleagues worked tirelessly and selflessly under very trying conditions, and he personally felt saddened by the negative and abusive attitude shown by some members of the public towards caregivers and other medical professionals just trying to do their job. Kallooa began organising trade union activities to protest against the difficult conditions nurses endure, as well as trying to build unions that are there “24/7” for their members and at the same time avoid the militant unionism that has annoyed many ordinary Mauritians in the past.
More than thirty years after Kallooa began his nursing journey, things have gone full circle for the multi-talented health professional, who also a keen photographer, sculptor and painter. He is the first Mauritian to be elected as Second Vice President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The ICN, founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1899 is a non-governmental organisation made up of worldwide national nursing organisations. It works to promote and guarantee the quality of patient care, lobbies for sound healthcare policies and to make strides in improving and developing the teaching of the profession. It currently has 16 million members in 137. Kallooa will have joint responsibility for the ICN’s activities in the Africa region, according to Le Défi.
Despite his keen involvement in a busy career and his new promotion to the ICN, Kallooa finds time to draw on his many creative talents. He practices painting, sculpture and photography, receiving several international awards for his photo work alone, including one memorable gong from the Commonwealth Broadcasting Corporation, relating to a photography project he did on the theme of communication . He has exhibited his creations all over Mauritius and the world alongside the Alliance Française, often based on his observations of everyday mundane life, and in 2015, Kallooa travelled to China to showcase a photo exhibition of children he took pictures of in different countries over a span of 25 years. He donated the proceeds of the Chinese exhibition to the Girls Child Education Fund (GCEF), a charity that promotes the education of orphans internationally.
Kallooa is a shining example of not only the talents and determinations of Mauritius’ people, but also a solid lesson in how working hard and using your skills and talents to benefit others is in itself a blessing.