My Incredible Peace Journey






Written by Marc Ayle Duval from Mauritius

June 2020

In 1960, I was only fourteen when I responded to a call for volunteers launched by the eminent Edwin de Robillard who was busy setting  up “Compagnons Batisseurs” in the aftermath of cyclones Alix and Carol that hit Mauritius causing chaos and desolation. 

I then met two English volunteers, Patrick Alexander and John Beckett I.V.S who came over to give a helping hand in the reconstruction of houses. They pleasantly surprised all those who came to work at the different localities by their simplicity, good manners and friendly approach.  

Due to that spirit of volunteering that they spread around, an IVS / SVI group emerged spontaneously as months went by. It was not long before a structure had to be put in place to accommodate new IVS (G.B) volunteers required in other fields of action like community health care, etc..

The movement gained momentum in August 1962 when a Bicycle Tour, “Jeunesse Fraternité”   was organized for the first time. Most of the volunteers enjoyed the six days tour with stop over for exchange with villagers. The tradition of holding this activity although for a shorter period continued to this date.

It is due to that experience gathered during work Camps and similar activity that in 1965, I accepted to serve as Secretary of the Young Farmers Clubs. To this date, I do not know who contributed to the running of the office that was situated in the Volunteers’ Compound.  OXFAM at that time also greatly helped to boost up the voluntary actions through Work-Camps.

In 1971, a tragedy occurred on top of Peter Booth Mountain that marked me profoundly. Three members of a family composed of my friend Kadress with his wife, Stephanie, former IVS Volunteer and their son Krishnan were killed by lightning on 1st January of that year. It was a great loss for both SVI and Mauritius. 

The eleven years of that friendship could not and did not disappear as I have kept fond memories of all the activities and exchanges we had together. The daughter, Esmée, who was left behind for the climbing, eight months old at that time, survived. She along with other members of both sides of the family needs to be told of that legacy.  

Five important years have successively marked the course of events in my life:

  • 1979 – I attended the ICM in New Delhi following an invitation by Steve Davies and Nigel Watt. 
  • 1980 – My wedding to Vicky, SVI member since 1976 who shares with me these forty years.
  • 1992 – The ICM in Bangladesh where I launched the idea of setting up a Peace Centre.
  • 2001 – Peace Centre in place for both Pierre Ceresole and Parsiven Chengapen (PC).
  • 2009 – ICM in Mauritius, the only one held in Africa by SCI to this day.

Eleven years have now elapsed since I last served as President. It must be now time for me to leave the front line after having told you this marvelous story.


* This story was part of the the first SCI Stories contest “Voice yourself”. Ayle, thank you very much for your participation. Thanks to people like you, the SCI movement continues to be alive and positively impacting the lives of thousands of people!