1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Paradise Lost

January 22, 2022

Emile Hoarau wants to finally face his past. He was nine years old when authorities on the French island of Réunion took him away from his family. Instead of a brighter future, a long ordeal awaited him.


At the time, around two thousand children like Emile were torn from their families. Like the others, Emile’s family was promised a good education for him, and a good income later on. That was more than 60 years ago: whether Emile's relatives actually agreed is now hard to verify. One thing is certain: At first, Emile was not given the chance to pursue an education in France. For years, he had to work hard in the fields of Réunion. Even when he finally arrived in France, he was sent to a children's home. To this day, he suffers from the experiences of that time, but he now wants to reconcile with his past. He decides to return to his native Réunion for the first time. DW’s Lisa Louis accompanies him.