Close to a 2 month mission, from the 3rd of September to the 22nd of October 2016, Monique and Alain Brochet, volunteers with Help Ecoles du Monde, spoke to us about their journey and their implication.
How did you hear about Ecoles du Monde?
MB: Actually by accident. Several years after arriving in Semur en Auxois, France for professional reasons – 20 years ago, we participated at the beginning of a new association Help Ecoles du Monde (amb.lespresbas.free.fr) that the city was interested in, following a meeting between the Mayor Michel Neugnot and Charles Gassot, at the movie theater in Semur. We had lived 14 months in Tananarive in 1966/67: as professor at the French technical high school for Alain, and as a replacement kindergarten teacher at the Alliance Française for me. Since our return, we still feel “beholden” towards Madagascar.
Describe to us what Help Ecoles du Monde is about?
AB: The goal of Help Ecoles du Monde is to organize events in favor of Ecoles du Monde. In this way, each year the association organizes one week in March/Avril baptized “The Malagasy Week” consisting of diverse activities through the years. Door to door sales of cinderblocks, sale of painting by local artists, (cf : “ Madagascar seen from Semur”) Malagasy dinner dances, evening cabarets with participation of local associations and groups of Magasies, concerts by Malagasy artists, concerts at the Collégiale, film projections, Malagasy poetry readings, projects by Charles Gassot and Marie-Claire in primary schools, art sales by André Maire (donations by his daughter Mme Harscoet), local theater companies, pedestrian and cycling rallies, balloon events… And each year during the event, a “Malagasy boutique” is put in place to promote Malagasy cuisine and craft trades. A.B.: Thanks to these activities, donations from private funders, from the community, and regional and Departmental Councils, we have been able to give 200 000€ to Ecoles du Monde over the past 12 years.
Is this your first mission on site?
M.B.: In 2005, We went to the inauguration of the ANTSANGABE School, situated in the coastal zone, for a duration of 2 weeks with 3 other couples engaged in the association. Yes, it was our first real “mission” with EDM.
When we retired, we could consecrate 2 months and choose the most efficient period for Ecoles du Monde, without forgetting our children and grandchildren.
What was your role during your stay?
AB: We knew EDM, but we didn’t have any particular skills useful for Madagascar (as would be a pedagogic councilor, a teacher, a doctor, an agronomist specialized in tropical plants, …) Planned before our departure, Monique was to help the day students (junior high, senior high and the teachers) who took classes in French, a work in small groups, and I was to conduct a analysis of the budget and local spending as well as construction supervision with Paulos, responsible for the water and sanitation systems. These activities allowed us to integrate the team. Next we started to spend several days at the school in Besely to help out Lova and Louna (summer school training for the young).
M.B.: With our good will and good sense of humor, we adapted to the diverse activities that presented themselves, helped Gilbert and Marie Marthe with their 10 days of training for the teachers (converse in French with the apprentices during breaks, cover books, …), organizing the courtyard, archiving, organizing a studio, fixing the copy machine… Determining the needs of school supplies for 700 EDM students, aiding Paulos for construction site visits for 2 building sites underway (the renovation of the school in Firaisana and the construction of a sanitary block, programming a solar panel installation…) planting bougainvillea’s and lemon trees in Besely… not forgetting, putting in place a blog of our activities in order to sensitize our readers.
What was the most remarkable thing for you?
A.B: For Monique, it was the moment when she presented the apprentices the photos taken in 2005 in their villages. Emile recognized his father who gave us a billygoat. I printed this photo. He was very proud to show it to his father in the coastal area.
M.B: Alain, for him, it was the time it took for each activity when the material and conditions were not assembled (for example, mounting 2 mirrors in the studios when everything is missing… or when you had to list, order, prepare and expedite school supplies by canoe to the villages.)
A.B.: You also have to add that being a generalized volunteer, you can’t expect to do “great things”, as when you’re not specialized (doctor, teacher, nurse…) or missioned for a precise activity (summer activities, audits of installations, wells…) we needed to adapt to the needs of the moment.
What is your next project with the association?
M.B: The Malagasy Week! We brought back many crafts in our suitcases to furnish the Malagasy Boutique 2017 which will be the 20th for EDM. We’re also going to prepare the panels of photographs and communicate on the warm welcome and quality of the housing of volunteers in Majunga, to encourage other volunteers to go there. A.B.: We said “see you soon” but not goodbye, which means we’ll be returning, even if at this time we don’t have a precise date…