Fidesco also sends volunteers to France. On Thursday 30 September 2021, the second promotion of these volunteers from the South coming to help in the North was sent on mission during the day's mass at the Domus.
They are four volunteers who were sent on Thursday 30 September 2021: Didier-Marie from Benin who will serve at Simon de Cyrène; Laetitia from Ivory Coast, who will help at Aux Captifs la Libération, Céline from Ivory Coast, who will serve at Lazare and Luce from Rwanda who will serve at Simon de Cyrène. Cindy and Oscarine, two other Cameroonian volunteers, will arrive in France in the coming months.
Fidesco explains and develops this North-South partnership initiative in an article that we are takining over bellow.
Four new reciprocity volunteers arrived in September and met in Montmartre from 28 to 30 September at the Benedictine nuns’ house for a training session and mission sending. Of Beninese, Cameroonian, Ivorian, and Rwandan origin, the new class of South-North volunteers are preparing to spend a year working with the poorest people in the service of various associations: Lazare, Aux Captifs la Libération, Simon de Cyrène, Le Rocher, and APA.
During these three days, they have been trained to live the adventure of meeting the poorest in France. What is the history of France, their customs and traditions? What are the French cultural markers? How to manage a budget in France? How to live in a community in France? Here is a non-exhaustive list of the topics we discussed together to understand this year better. This training course was based on the experience of an excellent first year.
In 2019, we had the outline of the project. In 2020, after a year and a half of preparatory work, we concretized our intuition: investing in reciprocal volunteering with new missions from the South to the North. This change of paradigm will revolutionize the logic and habits in the world of development and international solidarity.
From Rwanda to France, Aimé and Laura are the first volunteers to venture on the path we have dug, clarified, and built. They arrived in September 2020 for a year’s mission in the service of the poorest, and they both testify to the graces they received.
“At first, I was afraid to launch into the unknown, be confronted with the inner violence buried in the hearts of the homeless. I didn’t dare, but above all, I didn’t know how to go about helping them. I quickly understood that you don’t have to be an incredible person to do good: you have to say yes, to welcome the other person by respecting them. You must not be afraid but surrender to others: you form a relationship by spending time with others. To stop at appearance is to make a mistake: you have to try to open yourself up to the hidden beauty that lies in each individual”, Aimé shares with us in a mission report.
He lives in a shared flat of the Association pour l’Amitié (APA) and is involved in a day center for street people within the association Aux captifs la libération.
This is an asset for the partner associations.
Vincent, his branch manager, knows that he can count on Aimé:
“Aimé is a young man who helps a lot within our AssociationAssociation; solid and serene, he is someone who is naturally turned towards others, with an open mind. It is a real chance to have a rich and different culture among us. Moreover, he is involved for a whole year, the time to be immersed and devoted to our cause!
Ouarda, flat manager at Simon de Cyrène, appreciates the extraordinary richness of Laura’s arrival in her team:
“These people from southern countries have anchored in them the aspect of living together, which is essential for life in an association. They truly want to be there, to listen, and to be available. It is the case of Laura, whom we welcome for a whole year, the time to blossom and to sow fruit at the heart of our Association, unlike the other volunteers hired for 6 months. She says things in a benevolent and diplomatic way. Everything is simple with her. Laura is a driving force in the team; peaceful and smiling; She is a gem!”
Why launch the South-North mission?
“The mission far away is a response to a call from the Church that concerns people of all origins. It is not a Western privilege. Like others, volunteers from the South leave their country and their habits to serve. They go to meet another culture, to meet brothers and sisters who are suffering because if the countries of the South have poverty, the countries of the North also have poverty. The implementation of reciprocal volunteering is driven by the urgent need to build a culture of encounter”, explains Emeric Clair, director of Fidesco.
Therefore, a beautiful year full of hope is opening up for this new class of young African volunteers and the French associations they work with!