Sophie Ganeau, head volunteer of volunteers
Sophie taught geography for 38 years. A young retiree, she contacted us at the start of 2015 to learn if there was anything she could do to help us...
Can you tell us why you chose to join Planète Enfants?
I was introduced to PE [Planète Enfants] by a friend who was already a volunteer. I had just left an NGO where I had learned to manage volunteering for several years and I was searching for a new organization to which I could bring my new skills.
Moreover, I am particularly attached to Nepal, a country I have travelled partly on foot many times!
What exactly do you do for the organization?
I am in charge of volunteering, which means seeking volunteers for one-time or regular events, at the office or at home, and organizing their work and linking it to the work of our permanent employees.
What's in it for you?
This work is essential in my daily life. I feel useful and valued and this maintains me in active life. This career change is enriching, rejuvenating and stimulating in this stage of life. I have a large family and the combination of my role as grandmother with that of active volunteer provides me with a precious balance.
A word to convince other volunteers to join us?
The permanent team is kind and dynamic [and] the work atmosphere is warm and welcoming! All kinds of operations are waiting for new volunteers who are eager to learn, to be useful and to receive much in exchange for their availability.
The testimony of Deepa and Parbati, beneficiaries of the 'nursery schools of hope"
Deepa Sherpa is 24 years old; she comes from an underdeveloped district of Nepal and never had the chance to pursue her studies.
Very young she began to work in a restaurant with the hope of improving her economic situation. As a first step, she took care of household tasks but was finally forced to make "services" to clients. It is like that she started, little by little, to work in the sector of "entertainment".
This work environment was anything but friendly; she had to deal with many abuses and violence. Regulars physical and moral harassment have developed a strong fear and a loss of self-esteem for Deepa. She was more and more worried about her ability to take care of her child.
After reading the "Nursery schools of hope" program, she was relieved to learn that she could register her child at the center and that this one can flourish in a secure environment.
Thanks to the first received psychosocial counselling, a relationship of trust has been created with staff of Planète Enfants. She then decided to leave the "entertainment" industry in order to start a new activity, a clothing street trade.
Deepa works hard all day and earns approximately 6000 to 8000 rupees a month while she was earning between 3000 to 4000 in the sector of "entertainment". She receives regular visits from Planète Enfants to encourage her.
Her life changed radically, she no longer faces sexual violence, exploitation and harassment in her work environment. She is now mentally more stable and less stressed about her child and her economic situation.
Parbati Lama is 27 years old and has a child. Her family knew no real economic problems but she was facing different abuses and violence of some members. She then decided to leave the family circle at age 17. On her own, she quickly joined the "entertainment" industry to try to earn a living.
She met her first husband, but the marriage did not work long. She was also victim of violence from her husband and her in-laws. She then escaped and returned to work in the "entertainment" industry before to remarry a second time.
Parbati learned of the existence of the center through a friend. She then visited and after several meetings with the awareness's agent of the center, she was ready to be part of the project, being completely satisfied with the services received and to know her child will be safe. She made an effort to be involved and began to participate actively in the activities of the center. After a few months, she developed a particular interest to create her own business, a canteen, with the help of her husband.
Since then, the quality of her life has changed drastically. She has invested a small amount of her own savings and 15000 rupees as funds to start her project. Currently, she earns a reported profits between 7000 and 12000 rupees per month on average, while she was previously earning between 3000 and 4000 rupees in the "entertainment" sector.
Her standard of living has improved considerably; she is now independent and happy to live in a more secure environment for her and her child. Parbati now leads a stable life and is not any more prone to exploitation. The relationship with her husband has also improved and she is aware that she plays a more important role for her family. As a mother, she became more responsible and gives greater priority to the welfare of her child.
Picture story about our actions, by Sybille Mathiaud, artist
Sybille Mathiaud, painter, draws her travels for the last fifteen years in a very personal approach. A way to tame the world. End of 2015, she joined Planète Enfants in Nepal to carry out painting workshops and a drawings reports on our action.
Where did you get the idea of joining the Planète Enfants team?
It was a long time that I wanted to work with an NGO as an artist and teacher. I wanted to offer workshops and raise funds by selling maps and calendars made from my sketches. A relative told me about Planète Enfants, your work touched me.
How did it go in Nepal?
I was surprised by the simplicity with which I was welcomed. I expected a bit of reserve, a time of adaptation on the part of the beneficiaries. And not at all, the connection was immediate. Teenage girls I met in Chhori center, school children in Nuwakot, or apprentice of the Shanti workshop showed the same enthusiasm! I worked for example on the concept of indoor/outdoor with the symbolism of the tree: the trunk that represents their interiority and their vital energy and leaves, their relationship to the world. But also on the notions of volumes, light... Each time the meetings were very rich.
Where is the project at now?
With Planète Enfants team, we work to develop a book we want to be educational. We want to provide answers about the work of an NGO and undo preconceived ideas on humans trafficking. We also seek the funds to print it, companies and, soon, through a subscription open to privates.
Neeta, "I want them to be punished"
"I got married to a poor man with no education, like me. We were daily workers in the fields, in a Nuwakot village.
2 years ago, a man came to our house, it was a difficult time for us and he promised to help us. A month later, he came back saying that he had found me a job downtown. I was happy, I followed him. But with 2 of his friends, they brought me to a brothel in the North of India. I do not like talking about this period of my life, I had to receive 10 to 12 clients per day. It lasted for 17 months.
Last August, I became ill and I was brought to a doctor. I managed to escape on the way back and to come back to the village. I immediately met the team from the REPARE project, a psychosocial counsellor received me. It was the first time that someone was listening to me. The group of women from the project encouraged me to file a complaint. But I was too scared of revenge, I was not feeling strong enough. They assured me that they would help me and I let them convince me. The police found one of the traffickers very quickly. He has already been tried and is now in prison for the 20 years. The other 2 are still being searched for.
I feel so much better now, I would like women to be protected against those traffickers. I want them to be punished."
Doriane and Jennifer, a duo of committed translators.
Doriane Filior has a passion for modern languages and lives in the East of France, near Metz.
Jennifer Rowell Gastard is an American citizen who came to France in 1998 and lives in Montpellier.
Volunteers for Planète Enfants since early 2015, they still have not met but give some of their time working together on the translation of administrative and communication documents for the association. For instance they translated the 2014 Annual activity report.
Doriane: "Working on the translation of the Activity report was a very nice first volunteering approach with Planète Enfants, both in the pair formed with Jennifer and to get a better understanding of the cause of the association."
Jennifer: "The proofreading work of the Activity report comforted me in my choice to get involved in the life of Planète Enfants."
1. What was your volunteer experience before Planète Enfants?
Doriane: I have been sponsoring the schooling of children in Southeastern Asian countries since I turned eighteen years old, but this is the first time that I am doing volunteer work by participating directly in the running of an association. I had been looking to give out a few hours a week since a long time for translation missions, to an organization acting against child and woman abuse. Passionate about languages, I have lived five years in England, but my job as a buyer in a large company does not currently allow me to practice languages as much as I would like to. By responding to the advert posted by Planète Enfants about their need of translators and by working as a pair with Jennifer on translations, we can say that I found the right association... in both senses of the term.
Jennifer: I am part of the office of several associations, including an association of parent-child centres, a sports and cultural association and an association organising a Jazz Festival, all of them located near Montpellier. Besides, I have worked for an NGO based in Uganda as Director of the European program until very recently. After losing my job this year, I undertook two projects: creating a company that aims to create intercultural projects, and giving some of my time on translation missions to an association concerned with the rights of women and children. I found out about the adverts from Planète Enfants through a friend and I am now working together with Doriane.
2. How did you first get in touch with Planète Enfants?
Jennifer: I applied to the advertisement from the website. Sophie, in charge of the volunteering coordination, was therefore the one who answered me. English being my mother tongue, things were done quite simply. Not only did I translate a text like all volunteers, but I also proofread and validate the potential volunteers' translations.
Doriane: after spending quite some time searching on the internet, I found the advert from Planète Enfants. I translated a text to validate my 'level' and let the association know my availabilities. I was able to work for Planète Enfants in the evening after work, on week-ends and during my time off.
3. On which specific documents have you worked since your arrival in the volunteers' team and how?
Jennifer: I have worked on communication texts for the website, but most of the work was done on the translation of the 2014 Activity report. As Doriane had more time than me to devote to the association at that time, it was agreed that she would work on the first version of the translation. Once done, I was given the text for proofreading and to refine the parts that she had translated. My work on this thirty-five pages long document was spread out from June to October. It is quite long because this document describes the Nepalese context and all the programs but the proofreading work of the Activity report comforted me in my choice to get involved in the life of Planète Enfants
Doriane: I have worked, on my spare time, on the first draft of the translation of the 2014 Activity report. Big document of more than thirty pages describing the programs, but also the context, the partnerships, the management report, and the prospects for the association. I started in July and finished it in September. Working on the translation of the Activity report was a very nice first volunteering approach with Planète Enfants, both with the pair formed with Jennifer and because it allowed me to get a better understanding of the association's project. This convinced me to carry on my volunteering missions with this association. I hope to be able to come to Paris soon in order to meet the association team members.
Doriane and Jennifer are two of the members of the "translation" team of Planète Enfants which counts one more person. The Planète Enfants team would like to thank them for the time spent on the translations of various documents and wish them every success in their personal projects.
Olivier Roellinger, top chef, entrepreneur and humanist
Following the April 2015 earthquake, you decided to help a charity working in Nepal; why ?
I created my company, « les épices Roellinger » (« the Roellinger spices ») with the aim to support farmers from all around the world producing quality spices, by purchasing them at the right price. Among them are the Nepalese farmers, who we buy the Timut pepper from, an outstanding berry with a grapefruit taste. After the terrible earthquake from the 25th of April, one of my young co-workers, Cédric Latouche, came to see me and reminded me of my humanist commitments by asking me what we were going to do for the Nepalese people!
In practical terms, how did "les épices Roellinger" help Planète Enfants?
For 6 months we donated to Planète Enfants the totality of our turnover generated by the Nepalese pepper.
Why chose Planète Enfants among all other initiatives for Nepal ?
After finding out by ourselves a few initiatives, which did not convince us, we turned to professionals : the "Fondation Insolites Bâtisseurs" ("Unusual Builders Foundation"), who recommended Planète Enfants to us along with its project to assist farmers victim of the earthquake recover their destroyed means of production: seeds, tools, livestock... The human size of the charity organization, its perfect knowledge of the country and its approach of capacity reinforcement of the local players did convince me.
Testimony of a child from Nuwakot
My name is Sumana, I am 11 years old and I am in class 4 (4th year in primary school), I live in the village of Thaprek. My house and my school have been destroyed during the earthquake. It made me so sad.
The school remained closed for several weeks and I was on my own while my parents left to work in the fields. And then, in June, Planète Enfants and Shakti Samuha put in place a temporary school centre in my school. I went there and it was really great to meet my friends again to play, study, read, play football or draw.
There are plenty of games, in fact we never used to have so many games at school before.
Before the earthquake, I did not like school very much and I did not go very often. Now I love it! I like to play and to read in the reading corner. It reassures me and it makes me happy. I like study sessions and I have learnt a great deal about protection and hygiene. I can communicate more easily than I used to.
My favourite subject is English. I would like to become an English teacher. And I want to thank Planète Enfants and Shakti Samuha for this wonderful project.
Portrait of Catherine Thomain, volunteer journalist since January 2014
What is your role in Planète Enfants?
I occupy myself in Paris with press relations so that the association has the advantage of being presented in the media and that their actions and the cause they defend is more visible.
Besides that, what do you do in life?
Apart from my counseling activity in communications, I practice outside sports such as jogging, trekking, skiing - activities that I followed in Himalaya.
What do you take from this mission?
It satisfies me because it responds to an objective that has long stood out: make my expertise serve a cause of which I feel in harmony. Additionally, Nepal is a country that has been dear to my heart since my first trek in 1980; I have returned there several times in a promise to help the people one day.
How did you decided to help Planète Enfants?
It's precisely a moment where I could implement this resolution, as I knew of Stéphanie Selle thanks to a common friend was also engaged with the association.
Nursery Schools of Hope: I love you workshops reinforce mother-child relations
Muna Shrestha has been the supervisor of the nursery schools since 2011. She tells us what happens in the workshops:
"The mothers are not very tender with their children, as they have not been habituated in a proper family. It is frequent that they hit or insult their children. The goal of the workshops is to teach them gentleness and to hold their children, reassuring them with love. To begin, we simply ask them to place their child on their knee, to look them in the eyes and tell them 'I love you'.
It is not evident in the beginning; some mothers are timid or embarrassed. We have them play with their hands, sing, dance with their child, and draw the family. Or maybe, represent their child in play-doh. Just a few activities render them complicit.
Thanks to the sessions, the mothers abandon their violent attitudes. From day to day, the center's team encourages the mothers to gently separate themselves from their child every morning. They become more clam and patient, they learn to pay tranquilly with others and the atmosphere is calm."
100% of the program Nursery Schools of Hope is financed by our donations and sponsorships
Thanks to the SAXO workshop, 2 seamstresses return to school !
Sunita (20 years old) and her half-sister Tara (18 years old) arrived in the reintegration center in 2012. They were 2 of the 6 first seamstresses trained during the SAXO project.
Sunita and Tara were born into a family of 10 children and, as children, lived in the district of Dhading, 2 hours west of Khatmandu. Their peasant family had very modest means, although all the children attended school.
Sunita : « When I was in class 5 (CM2), I became ill and I had to quit school. I stayed home to rest, and I helped my mother with chores in the house. But as I did not get better my parents decided to take me to Khatmandu. They told me I had tuberculosis, and they gave me a very strong treatment. I was tired and I stayed at home. When I turned 16 I felt better, they registered me in an association where I learned Nepalese and English, as well as dance.
Ma sister Tara joined us, for she was also sick, with epilepsy. In Khatmandu my parents were very poor, my father repaired watches, and my mother sold grilled corncobs on the street. It was necessary to earn money. I started to work in a dance bar, and Tara also....
Cap Nepal* offers temporary shelters and advice for girls like us who have difficulties. We met them and they invited us to come to the center for reintegration."
Tara : « We joined the workshop for making bags last January. I am happy to work here because I am learning to sew well, and make quality bags. And now we have some savings in the bank. One month ago Sunita and I rented a room outside the center. Since May we resumed school in the morning, and we work in the workshop in the afternoons to earn a living. I would like to pursue higher education. In which subject? I don't know...(laughs, a bit embarrassed)...higher education to be even better. »
*Partner in our program « Not for Sale: center for reintegration of victims of sexual exploitation »