Occupation: “Quality Manager” in a watch company. In professional reconversion towards Development Assistance.
Place: Gaillard, Haute-Savoie (Francia)
Time in Don Juan:Several weeks of July and August 2016
How did you know about Don Juan and A mano manaba?
When I arrived to Ecuador I wanted to offer my help in a small community affected by the 7.8 quake that had not received international or government aid. During those first days in Quito I heard about Don Juan through Alejandra Gómez who works with Ayuda Directa a local NGO that developed housing for a neighborhood in Don Juan. When I arrived to Don Juan I was talking to the people about their needs and very soon got in touch with Rut. She and Esteban were starting with all the projects and spearheading A mano manaba.
Tell us something about your experience in Don Juan, how did your contribution help?
My days in Don Juan were enriching in so many levels: professional, cultural and personal. I was helping Rut with her project of homework assistance for local children in the Library after school. After talking with Rut, with the school principal, the kids and the teachers of Don Juan, I realized they are in so much need of educational support. I decided that I would go back to France and share my experience with this remedial reading project and look for ways to help A mano manaba with all its projects
Would you recommend this experience? Why?
I recommend this experience as a means of strengthening links between human beings. We are all encapsulated within our own culture and by reaching out and having different experiences enables us to understand that while diverse, we are not all that different. Aside from this eye opener this experience exposes the great gap between urban and rural areas of a same country and the disparity between countries. I believe the best answer to disparities is constantly promoting equality of opportunities. This is why I recommend this experience; each one of us can be part of promoting equality by offering our time, skills, motivation and access to professional or educational training, all needed in this community.
How would you describe the people in this community?
I think people of this community are very courageous in the way they overcome fear and the effects of the quake. They are talented and optimistic, they are creating new ways and solutions to improve life conditions in the village. They are very courteous and warm; they go out of their way to talk with newcomers. They are curious and very understanding with foreigners. It’s just so nice to spend time with them. The affectionate gratitude they showed me still moves my heart.
What about the people who run this NGO?
I was really impressed by Rut and Esteban and their commitment with the quality of life of their neighbors. They are always available to talk with everybody, they remain willing and motivated, and above all what strikes me is their optimism and positive manner. I learned from them that if we all chip in with a little we can get a long way for Don Juan. They are busy inviting and confederating good will. They are installing a positive dynamics about the necessities of the community and I commend them for sharing this.
What would you say to a future volunteer in Don Juan?
I would tell them to simply listen attentively to the people of Don Juan. There is so much you can learn and share with them.