Nine youngsters from the Sant Jordi Children’s Home (66) went to Morocco this summer to renovate a school as part of an international solidarity project. A truly worthwhile experience. Testimonials.
From 8th to 29th July, nine youngsters from the Sant Jordi Children’s Home in Perpignan, supervised by four adults from the institution, went to Morocco for a solidarity project. During those three weeks, French and Moroccan youngsters completely renovated the classrooms of a primary school near Essaouira.
‘We scraped, sanded down, primed then painted several classrooms. We also refurbished the schoolyard, which was in poor condition’, says Isaakia, 14, who volunteered for his first international project. ‘I wanted to do this project in a school, to help children who do are not as fortunate as we are in France.’
What with the intense heat, exhaustion and the unforeseen, the project – in partnership with the local association Afoulki - sometimes really tested the team’s motivation. ‘The hardest thing was working in the heat’, remembers Mehdi. ‘We got up at 5.30 am to be there very early. Even so, we quickly became very hot and every movement required incredible effort!’
‘The youngsters have all been outstanding’, says Anthony Dupont, foreman and educator at the Children’s Home. ‘They had to get up very early and walk for half an hour to reach the site, then work for five to six hours on the trot. When there were problems, the youngsters took responsibility to ensure the project continued – an attitude they sometimes struggle to adopt in their daily life in France.
A moving experience
This rewarding experience has had particular resonance for some young people like Mehdi: ‘My mother is Moroccan, but I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the country’, he says with a hint of emotion. ‘This project has therefore been a chance for me to discover my roots. I loved their mind-set! Over there they just go with the flow; they take life as it comes. I loved it so much I could have stayed in Morocco!’
International projects are also a chance for young people to discover another culture, another language, a different lifestyle. In short, new horizons. ‘Over and above the project itself, these educational actions for international solidarity (AESI) also have the educational goal of offering young people an intercultural encounter, a voyage of discovery of oneself and others’, says Anthony Dupont.
‘The high point was the day the school re-opened’, remember Mehdi and Isaakia. ‘The whole village was there! It was sad to leave them – some even shed a few tears – but at the same time we were very proud we had seen the project through to the end and had proved ourselves useful.’