Jouel declares mission accomplished for autism project


Speaking to the media at a press briefing on Wednesday, managing director Rod ThorringtonMr Thorrington said his company initiated the corporate social responsibility (CSR) project in 2012 in collaboration with the Seychelles Children’s Foundation (SCF).

The main objective of the autism advocacy project was to create awareness about autism and explain to the public how prevalent autism is in Seychelles’ society.

“One year later, we feel the objective has been achieved,” he said. “There has been a lot of press and television coverage, and a lot of educational material has been created. We found an unbelievable number of people coming forward and saying they suspected their child may have some degree of autism. That kind of feedback has been immense.”

Now that they feel their objective has been achieved, Jouel helped to create an association led by parents of children with autism called Pearl Seychelles, which then took over the advocacy work from this year onwards.

“This is just a statement from us to say that we have achieved our objectives, we’ve handed over but will continue to support the advocacy project,” said Mr Thorrington. “For example, we are still bringing out the professor at our own expense from America, who is an expert on autism, for a follow-up session.”

The managing director said that in terms of the parents’ association, Jouel was playing a more behind-the-scenes role, providing technical help rather than being the front-runners of the project. The company is now planning to move on to its next corporate social responsibility project.

“We’re looking at a few,” he said. “We haven’t identified one as yet, but by the end of this year we’ll have chosen one.”

“But we’re willing to take the same approach; take something that no-one knows about and that there is no support for, nurture it and then hand it over to people who are really involved in it on a personal level. We can’t have the same passion about the autism project as the parents can, and that’s why we realised that at some point we needed to hand over.”
Mr Thorrington said that the next CSR project did not necessarily have to be relating to children.
“The criterion is that it should be something that there is currently no interest in. With the autism project, nobody was behind it at all. Nobody wanted to talk about it. Parents who had autistic children were ashamed and worried to come out and say their child was autistic, and now the attitudes have changed completely, which was the objective.”

Since its inception in Seychelles in 2003, Jouel has grown to a chain of 10 retail jewellery outlets and recently announced its partnership with local jewellery manufacturer Kreol’Or, which it intends to grow further as a uniquely Seychellois brand and eventually export to Southern African, Middle Eastern and Asian markets.



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