Address by the President of the Republic
on the occasion of the Official Launching
of the Ranger Foundation Trust
Saturday 12 July 2008 at 1900 hrs
Maritim Hotel, Balaclava
The Hon. Minister of Education and Human Resources
The President of MACOSS
Chairman, National Council for the Rehabilitation of Handicapped Persons
Mr Lance Ranger, Founder of the Ranger Foundation Trust
Miss Adel Sopronyi Mrs Ruma Kissoondharry, Director of Curatus
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for the warm welcome extended to me and my wife. We are indeed pleased to be in your midst this afternoon on the occasion of the launching of the Ranger Foundation Trust.
Thank you Mr Lance Ranger for having taken such a good initiative to dedicate much of your time to humanitarian and philanthropic causes. You should be proud today to see the realisation of a dream you had long cherished.
It is good to remind that the Ranger Foundation Trust is a non-profit charitable institution aimed at improving the quality of life of the physically impaired children and young adults through Conductive Education. The Trust’s motto: “Every child matters” reflects the interest of the organisation to cater for every child.
Conductive Education, I am informed, is an art of therapy which helps the physically impaired but mentally capable children to control their movement difficulties. By so doing, these children can maximise their potential and lead a fulfilled life, as independently as possible. The trust is of the view that these children should be given the opportunity to receive education, not as a privilege but as a right.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I note that with a view to offering access to education to children with special needs, you have hired the services of experienced professionals from abroad. Qualified teachers and therapists will thus help the Trust to achieve its objectives of making “Every child matters” become a reality, and with this the right of every Mauritian child for access to education will become true.
The medium used is a holistic, movement based education system, carried out in a children-friendly atmosphere, motivates the children to give the maximum of themselves and thus participate fully in all the exercises. I am confident that the Trust will attain its objective and thus offer a better tomorrow to these children. Yesnee, Kenzo and Jean Alain are examples of perseverance and are proof of the Conductive Education System which is showing its results.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Disability should not be a reason for these children to be left on their own. Mauritius has achieved a lot in terms of economic progress and prosperity. Yet we need people like Mr Lance Ranger, Mrs Runa Kissoondharry and their team to give a better quality of life to our less fortunate children. The very gesture of extending a helping hand to the needy is an honourable exercise. This quality is not given to all. One must be inspired from deep within. I consider that doing social work is an inborn characteristic. We must all recognise the good work done by our social workers, as it demands lot of sacrifice, both in terms of time and resources. In this material world and in these days of expensiveness the Government and the private sector should work hand in hand to remove those who are in dire need, out of the pangs of poverty.
I have always said that nation building is the responsibility of each and every one of us. We should put in our contribution however minimal be it. It is only through social cohesion and brotherhood that we will gain the battle of exclusion and poverty.
The Government has done a lot for the social integration of physically handicapped people. I must also mention the important role played by certain NGO’s in this sector, and here we are in the presence of a private initiative and a concrete example where the private sector is responding to its corporate and social responsibility call.
Before ending, I would like once more to congratulate Mr. Lance Ranger and his team for this laudable initiative for the care of Mauritian children. My wife joins me to wish you good luck in all your future undertakings. May you succeed for the benefit of an even greater number of children.
I thank you for your attention.
I set up The Ranger Foundation Trust in September 2007 with the intention of creating a physical therapy centre and a special needs education unit for physically disabled children on the island of Mauritius.
I had for several years been increasingly distressed by the general lack of care on the island for children with disabilities. I realised that, even though I could not possibly help all the disabled children in Mauritius, I could certainly make a difference for some of them.
In the summer of 2007, we created a charity specifically to help disabled children in Mauritius who, like my oldest son Oliver, live with physical disabilities, but who are intelligent and capable of making physical and intellectual progress. These children can certainly benefit from an education and physical therapy and will therefore be able ultimately to lead more active and rewarding lives and be able to contribute to society.
In April 2008 we set up The Ranger Foundation Centre, a simple special needs teaching and physical therapy centre in Vacoas (near the capital of Mauritius, Port Louis). Now 15 Mauritian children and young people are receiving daily schooling and therapy at our centre.
We presently rent a small house and use it as therapy centre and school. We now want to build a permanent school building for these children.
In my first newsletter to this website, I stated “that children who might never have walked will walk because of the therapies paid for by the generous sponsors ..”
I can now confirm that many of “our” children are already doing daily walking exercises and are making great progress towards greater mobility independence. The most obvious and easily visible real progress is in their “daily living” skills such as eating (feeding and drinking) independently. Indeed one of our most seriously disabled children is now able to verbally communicate several of his needs, including when he needs the loo, after his lunch! He previously had no communication ability at all. Great progress indeed!
In May 2008 we said farewell to our first Peto Conductive Therapist, Aniko Väss, who has spent an exciting 15 months working with us to set-up, and initially run, The Ranger Foundation Centre’s active therapy programme. Our “new” Chief Conductive Therapist, Abigail Payne, arrived in Mauritius from the UK in August 2008 and has worked tirelessly to build upon Aniko’s excellent groundwork in the therapy unit. Abigail has proved to be a true ‘hero’ to our children, providing support wherever it is most needed.
Our other ‘star’ is Atia Sultana, our Head of Education for the Centre. Atia is originally from Pakistan and has been in Mauritius for more than 16 years. She runs the teaching programme, providing an active, interesting and demanding school curriculum to our students. Always upbeat and universally cheerful, Atia and Abigail have become the “core” upon which the team is built.
Adél Sopronyi is our external co-ordinator of therapy and school activities. Adél, based in Switzerland, is in constant contact with Abigail and Atia to ensure that no stone is left unturned in their combined efforts to provide our students/patients with the most imaginative and productive range of educational and physical stimuli.
The trustee of The Ranger Foundation Trust is Curatus Trust Company in Mauritius. We owe a clear debt of gratitude to Ruma Kissoondharry, the Managing Director of Curatus, and other staff members including Sanjana Kissoondharry, Kate Carver and Kumari Appadoo. These wonderful people work behind the scenes to ensure that The Ranger Foundation Centre remains on the best of terms with the Mauritian Ministry of Education. We are presently engaged in the process of becoming a recognized school in Mauritius.
Whilst, clearly times are hard for businesses everywhere, we can confirm that several sponsors are emerging who have helped us to meet certain costs or are paying for various articles that we can now therefore obtain for our students.
We are in the process of creating a sponsors page on our website where we can properly acknowledge the real help given to us.
In December 2007, I set-off on a sponsored ski-walk pulling a sled weighing 60 kilos (130 pounds) over a distance of 120 kilometres across the Last Degree, from 89 degrees South to 90 degrees South – to the South Pole. This was successful in raising approximately 200,000 Swiss Francs for The Ranger Foundation Trust.
There really is a ‘pole’ at the South Pole (two, actually). A ceremonial one, with stripes on and a silver ball on top for “photo-ops” and the real one which is a thin galvanised steel pole with a block of brass on top engraved with “South Pole”.
I suffered a frost-bitten nose and ‘frost-nipped’ fingertips, but was delighted by the support I received, both financially (in the sponsorship) and morally from all of the many people who gave their support to my project.
In order to raise more funds to help us to build a permanent school, I have decided to do another ski walk.
On the 6th April 2009, I will head North on a sponsored ski-walk of the Last Degree to the North Pole (I will literally go to the ends of the Earth for these kids).
I will be accompanied by three others including my good friend and companion from the South Pole, Kevin Dempsey. A major problem for us will be that the ice in the Arctic floats around(generallyfrom theNorth in a Southerly direction). However, I hope we will be able to reach the Pole in about ten days. We will be unsupported on our trek, and will pull our provisions on sleds weighing approximately 60 kilos each.
I am hoping to at least equal our sponsorship record of the money raised for my Antarctic trip. 200,000 Swiss Francs is a tall order for our sponsors to beat in these troubled times, but these kids are not on anybody’s balance sheet. They have been “written-off” by their own governmental institutions and will have no real hope of furthering themselves without our help. The Ranger Foundation Trust offers these young people a future with hope.
Please help me to show these kids that they are in our thoughts and that they are cared about not just by me and our wonderful staff, but by a far wider family around the world.
After a year of bad news all around us, let’s create some good news at last. Support us in our ongoing plan to build a permanent special needs school and therapy unit in central Mauritius so that those children who need our help will get it on an ongoing basis in the longest term.
Thank you for your support, whether it is financial or just moral.
I took with me to the South Pole many letters/e-mails of encouragement. They really helped me to keep going when things looked bad. I hope you will send me more such letters, as I will need all the encouragement I can get when I head North into this desolate wasteland, the home of the polar bear. I expect temperatures of around -45 to -50 degrees Celsius.
As before, I will be paying all my own expenses/costs of this trip.
I will be writing and posting a daily report on my trip which will be linked to our website, www.therangerfoundation.org You are welcome to visit and to send me on-line messages of support. I look forward to hearing from you.
With my (warm) regards.
Lance D Ranger
Zug, January 2010
In April 2009, I finally stood at the top of the world: The North Pole.
It was for me the realisation of two dreams: to do something spectacular (or foolhardy) enough to gain the attention, curiosity (and ultimately the support) of all my kind sponsors and thus help me raise substantial funds needed to build The Ranger Foundation School and Therapy Centre; and secondly to stand somewhere that so few have been before, reached under my own (frozen) steam.
When I reached the South Pole in December 2007, I was so overwhelmed with the moment that I cried my eyes out. I had not really known what lay ahead when I headed South, and by the time I did realise the gargantuan task I had set myself, it was far too late to go back in defeat to my supporters with my tail between my legs. Instead, I kept-on plodding ahead day after day, always further Southwards until ultimately I reached my goal.
My trek to the North Pole was totally different, I was better prepared for what lay ahead and felt ready to meet the considerable toil head-on. I already knew of the shifting ice floes divided by massive ridges of shattered ice, some with precariously balanced ice blocks each as big as a car. A labyrinthine chaos of barricades through which we must warily tread our way to our goal. I also knew that we would sometimes encounter open water where the ice floes had split under the extraordinary forces lurking just beneath them.
Of course, there are other ways to reach the North Pole; by helicopter, dogs, even submarine, but there was only one way for me to achieve my goal. By pulling my own sled – “manhauling”. Dragging my own food, equipment, being jointly responsible for my and my team’s welfare.
I often say, “If we make a mistake, no one dies”. That clearly is valid in the office, but not on the frozen ice pack. There, a miscalculation of direction or distance could have catastrophic consequences. Repeatedly I asked myself as I skied over thin ice – as little as 5 centimetres thick, for stretches of up to 80 metres, “do I really trust my guide and expedition leader”, Jason de Carteret. Repeatedly I was able to re-affirm that belief.
We live in a world where the concept of trust is an ever rarer commodity, yet in that barren landscape we all came to trust each other, through our own toil and unreserved willingness to help one another when needed. Of course I had already formed a deep bond with my fellow Polar travel companion, Kevin Dempsey, with whom I had the privilege of skiing to the South Pole. However, we all came together and got to know each other in some ways more intensively than if we had known each other for years. Extreme situations can be like that.
I can also apply to our Mauritian project some of the lessons that I have learned on my travels. There we have a group of people, fast becoming almost a family, brought together to achieve a goal of building something. A permanent creation which is already larger than its constituent parts. A lasting legacy for the long-term welfare of these children (and hopefully generations of children after them) and a monument to the innate goodness that is within all of us.
The Ranger Foundation Centre has already become a well-known organisation in Mauritius, receiving compliments in the form of referrals of children from the Ministry of Education and from other establishments.
We officially launched The Ranger Foundation Trust in Mauritius in July of 2008 at a gala dinner with the President of Mauritius, The Right Honourable Sir Aneerood Jugnauth and his wife as our guests of honour. The dinner was self-financed by our Mauritian colleagues, Curatus Trust Company (Mauritius) Limited.
Since then our “Special Needs” Learning Centre and Therapy Unit have expanded. Originally we had 8 children, whereas now we look after 18 children, babies and young people.
I aim for The Ranger Foundation Trust to use the money that I have raised from the original South Pole expedition plus the money I have raised from my North Pole expedition (a further approximately CHF200,000 so far) to build a purpose-built school and therapy centre near the capital, Port Louis. We are hopeful of making further real progress towards breaking ground during 2010. I will soon publish my proposed plans for the building on this website.
Thank you, and please don’t stop caring!
With my personal best wishes.
Lance D Ranger
7th March 2011
The Ranger Foundation Trust plans to construct a purpose-built ‘special-needs’ school on the island of Mauritius
On the 12th March 2011, (this next weekend) I aim to embark upon the 'Finnmarksløpet', Europe’s most Northerly husky dog sled race, racing 500 kilometers, from the Arctic coast of Norway to Finland and back again.
I am doing this to raise awareness of, and sponsorship funding for, our long-standing project. Funds raised will be used to construct a purpose-built ‘special-needs’ school building and therapy centre for physically disabled children and young people in Mauritius.
Since I founded The Ranger Foundation Trust nearly 4 years ago, we have run a small learning centre for physically disabled children and young people who are suffering from Cerebral Palsy on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
When I first set up an office there, I was struck by the lack of help for physically disabled, but intellectually able, people on the island. Since then I have embarked on two extreme treks (South Pole/North Pole) to raise much-needed sponsorship funds. These resources have allowed us, since 2008, to open and run the learning centre.
The Ranger Foundation School is now recognized as the top specialist unit on the island for treating children with Cerebral Palsy. Indeed it is the only educational unit in Mauritius where ‘Conductive Therapy’ is available to such children. We have 3 European teaching and therapy specialists and a further 11 local teachers, occupational therapist and care assistants, all working full-time in Mauritius. Several of our staff also voluntarily assist in an official training program to teach local teachers how to work with physically disabled children.
We have now agreed the terms to buy a 2 acre (9,000 square meter) plot of land for our new school, not far from our existing (now rented) school house. This agreement has been reached with the Sugar Investment Trust (SIT), one of the larger landowners on the island.
Under the terms of that agreement, we will pay 1 million Mauritian Rupees (approximately USD 30,000) per year for 7 years as the purchase price. I am glad to report that we have already secured funds to pay for this land from ‘on-island’ donations.
However, we still need to raise funds to pay for the construction of our new, purpose-built, school building, therapy centre and teacher training centre on the land itself!
I therefore now aim to raise much-needed funds to pay for the building works. The anticipated cost of the project will be approximately 300,000 Swiss Francs (200,000 Pounds Sterling). Not a lot to create a lasting legacy of education and effective therapy for these children.
It breaks my heart every time we have to send-away a disabled child who could really benefit from our therapies, simply because we don’t have enough room for them.
Ultimately we hope to be able to increase the number of children that we are helping from our present maximum (20 young people and babies) to over one-hundred such children.
My wish is to raise sponsorship for the building project either in money or (locally, on-island) donated materials and services so that we can get this place up and running as soon as possible.
I will therefore race 500 frozen kilometers (with some 70 "real" dog mushers!) from the 12th of March to raise awareness of our project. It will take me at least 3 days.
I am hoping that, by doing so, we will raise the much-needed funds to use for the building project. As with my other fundraising projects, I personally have paid for all of the costs of training, travel and the entry fees for the race itself.
In the meantime and in order to have the best chance of finishing the race I have needed to train. The dogs won't just pull my lazy bones up every hill, so I must run up a lot of snowy mountain sides in order to help them. There is a lot more to dog mushing than just shouting "mush mush..."
I have therefore endured three intensive training "boot camps" for the 'Finnmarksløpet' marathon Husky dog sled race. My hosts and friends Arne and Marianne Karlstrøm (Marianne is the World Champion dogsledder over 400 kilometers) have kindly donated some of their excellent dogs, and their own time and teaching expertise to help me in my plan to raise funds for The Ranger Foundation.
I have come to the conclusion that I am not really a very good dog musher. I keep falling off the sled, and the dogs then run-off into the distance with it bouncing merrily along behind them!
I have resolved to tie myself to my sled for the duration of the race. They won’t lose me this time!
We are a lifeline for these children. Our work is saving them from being abandoned to become a burden on society. This is your project too! Your contribution helps us to continue to change these disabled children’s lives. Please help us to help them.
For more information about the race and to follow my progress, see www.finnmarkslopet.no for an excellent website in English and Norwegian.
You can read more about husky dog safari adventures on www.parkengaard-husky.no . Their website gives an excellent introduction to dog-sledding.