Young Palestinians visit Apprentis d'Auteuil

Young Palestinians visit Apprentis d'Auteuil

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From 7th to 27th June 2017, Apprentis d’Auteuil welcomed to France, 9 pupils from a school in Beit Jala, Palestine. A first! Pastoral Coordinator in Picardy and project manager for this initiative, Pascal Francisco, explains. With accounts from some of the pupils.


Seven girls and two boys from the Latin Patriarchate School of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, visited Apprentis d’Auteuil in Paris and Picardy. They have all been learning French since the age of six, but for some this was their first trip abroad. The theme of the trip was: ‘Citizen builders of peace’.  

‘This trip follows three summer camps in 2014, 2015 and 2016 hosted by employees, volunteers and former Apprentis d’Auteuil pupils at the Beit Jala Latin School, which is one of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in Jerusalem’, says Pascal Francisco, Pastoral Coordinator in Picardy. This partnership between Apprentis d’Auteuil and the school governors of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in Jerusalem is part of an initiative to promote relations between French Catholic schools and Christian schools in the Holy Land.

Raghad, a sixteen-year-old pupil explains why she wanted to come to France: ‘It’s a cultural and linguistic journey, not tourism! I wanted to discover the history of Apprentis d’Auteuil and France. I also wanted to change the idea young French people have of Palestine. We live like anyone else and we love life!

An outstanding family welcome


The young Palestinians were hosted by families linked to the school of the Immaculate Conception (Gaudechart, 60). They greatly appreciated the presence and commitment of the families towards them! Heba, 16, says: ‘I’ve already travelled abroad four times because my Palestinian dance group is invited to festivals. I want to keep beautiful moments with French friends and families in my heart. I’m happy to be home but I also wanted to stay!’

The group also met young people from Apprentis d’Auteuil: on the first day, Year 12 pupils from the Sainte-Thérèse High School in Paris, and on subsequent days, pupils from Marcel Callo College (Nogent-sur-Oise, 60). They told them about their country and answered the many questions put to them. Bertha, 17, says: ‘I love French; it’s the language of thought. I will always remember the kindness of the people and the feeling of freedom. At home, we don’t have much choice in terms of what we study, and no freedom to come and go as we please, we have to be wary of every word we say. Because of the occupation there are even obstacles to free thinking.’

For four days they helped prepare for and host the Immaculate Conception kindergarten and primary school fair on 18th June, showing their talents in traditional dance, on that occasion.
Among the cultural visits, Ameera, 17, will remember the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Oise in Beauvais: ‘Guides explained the paintings! I would like to study in France, perhaps architecture, because I love to draw’. 

The bonds of humanity


Their companion, Abir Rahil Massou, who has been teaching French at this school since 1992, observed: ‘It’s the first time I’ve taken pupils to France. They discovered that life was not as easy as they thought, that it was expensive. Taking this trip has done them good because they have always lived in a very small community, school, neighbours, cousins. There they met people of other nationalities.’

‘Everyone was surprised to see the bonds of humanity and fraternity that were created, going far beyond anything that can be put into words’, says Pascal Francisco. Bonds continue through a Facebook group. Before meeting up again in the next few years?

Apprentis d’Auteuil is a deeply committed catholic foundation, recognized as promoting the public interest in France and in more than 50 countries. Thanks to the expertise and experience of the foundation and their partners, Apprentis d’Auteuil have been able to supervise more than 23.000 children in France and almost 20.000 children and families worldwide. Its main goal is to help youth in difficulty by conducting educational projects and to boost their ability to participate in society as full-fledged citizens by promoting training and insertion programs worldwide. In addition to their actions towards helping vulnerable children, Apprentis d’Auteuil and their partners assist struggling parents in their family obligations, with coeducation as the guiding principle. The key purpose is to improve the management of children under their care and to enable them to grow as free and responsible adults. To make a donation for education – Please contact the foundation for underprivileged children Apprentis d’Auteuil.