Chapter XXVI – Gafsa – Tunisia

P71029-145910-02 (2)Back from Lebanon, I went straight to Alessandro and Faten. My bag was full of drawings from bukra ahla to give to the kids of one friend’s school in the capital. Being back from the middle east wasn’t easy. There, I was working full time from morning to evening,  here in Tunisia,  everything was going back to slow mode. .. the people, the projects,  the work … everything. ..




the government was still disabling everyone to do anything, from creating,  expressing to even thinking freely.


download (17)I again meet the censure, the undercovered mindset which tells you what to do, what to say, what to think etc. ..
With Alessandro and few others,  we struggle to impulse a motivation into people mind and to make them starting something.
Though, after a difficult and long work through the motionless of people and administration, we eventually succeed to start a project in the mining area of the Gafsa governorate, the poorest and most distress part of the country.  It was from here, as for instance, that the revolution first sparks came in 2008. It was from these people that the hope of change spread through the country until reaching its summit in 2011.
download (23)
download (21)
7 years after, nothing was changed for the population of the area and the place was more hopeless than ever. Willing as usual to understand the different causes of the migration and to help the population in need as I can, I focused my work on this specific area which was crystallizing all the country’s problems.
I went to the place alone, to start first working in the little mining town of Redeyef deep in the countryside. There I meet the people from the town and I experienced the nothingness, the blankness and the hopelessness of the inhabitants.
download (20)
Working so far with populations fleeing from war and living in harsh conditions, I have been chocked to meet a completely different kind of situation.
Here the people weren’t living in the fear of war, bombs or other deathly things. .. their distress was way more complicated.  They were basically living in the forgotten state, without anything, without money, work, activity, education or anything that could give their life a sense.
download (15)
In this jail, lost in the desert,  the hope of changes was no longer existing in people minds. Worse,  the youth was not only suffering the horrible life condition,  the pollution and the trashes. .. they had no chances of work and the unemployment was reaching more than 30 percent.
In this conditions,  the youth was split between,  drugs, the suicide, the radicalism or the migration. and it was easy to understand.
download (19)
In Redeyef, I once again crashed into the system; the so-called administration that makes you struggle to do anything. I faced the closed mind of people in charge of the country’s future, preventing its youth to flourish. I couldn’t work in the school as it happened already in the past.
Once again the first round was lost …
But I decided not to give up and to carry on trying and, thanks to the hard-working bunch of friend from Gafsa (and after another week of back-and-forth with the administration) I succeed to get the possibility to go and to start working with the schools of M’dhilla and Belghir, two other villages in the area suffering from the same problems.
My aim was clear, and the same than usual … to start projects with the kids, to empower them through the exchange project running for a year now and to get to know the specific situation of the villages.
FB_IMG_1523939345385-01It’s been an intense week, going from place to place, talking to people and working with the kids creating with them the first step of the connection I was trying to do with the other school.
download (25)
I would say that the general situation of the school in the country is catastrophic. Even in some of the harshest humanitarian situation, we still had a better educational system … there, the kids were just left by themselves and the schools were standing like phantomatic buildings in the countryside, either miles away from any habitation or settled a rock thrown away from the massive and toxic phosphate mountains that were killing slowly but surely, the future of the country.
download (28)
Through the kids were coming every day (for those who weren’t working in the fields with their parents) and were struggling to keep up with an old, conventional, blurry and difficult curriculum …
download (24) 
download (16)
As an outsider, I could help but to look sadly at the nothingness of these places, meant to be the nest of future Tunisia.
I could just plant the seed, hoping for it to grow … as quickly as possible, to give these kids a meaning in learning and to draw a better path in their future than the actual options which were given to the Tunisian youth nowadays.

Chapter XXV – Amman, Jordan


I arrived in Jordan by plane, the only way to get there from Lebanon.

Even a little hour away from Beirut, Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom is completely different. It was like arriving in another world made of dust, sand, dry rocks and wind …
The starting point of the desert …
20180126170749Here in Jordan, I get to know a completely different situation than in Lebanon.
Both countries have a similar history with Palestine refugees (as they’re bordering the frontiers of Isreal and Palestine) from the late 1940′.
You would expect to find a fucked up situation in this country surrounded by both, Syria, Iraq, Israel and Palestine …Though, Jordan seems to be a calmer place for the people fleeing their homeland… The kingdom feels somehow more stable and peaceful than the little explosive religious and political patchwork that defines Lebanon.
Therefore, here, at the door of the desert, people from many wartorn countries are taking refuge: Syrian, Iraqis, Sudanese, Yemenite, Somalis etc …
It’s not surprising seeing the Zaatari refugee camp 80kms from Amman, being the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world and the fourth biggest ”city” of Jordan.


I start to work here as an English teacher, which was in the straight continuation of my work in Lebanon, even though this time, I was running adults classes.
Most of my students were Iraqis in their mid-30’s-40’s and had an intermediate level. The work consisted to provide them with the necessary and useful topics and grammar skills in English, as the conditional forms, the superlatives, comparatives, modal verbs etc …  Every day, I was teaching classes, covering debates topics, new english grammatical forms etc … At the center, English wasn’t the only program running and was part of the several different workshops such as music, computer classes, sewing and embroidering workshop, sports and yoga sessions etc … Ashleigh, the teacher coordinator was even building up a one to one communication program to help the people to practice their English with people worldwide using the internet and the communication platform such as Skype, hangout etc …
The NGO, Collateral Repair Project was established for more than 10 years now and was operating amongst the different refugees’ communities in the country.
The center was based in Hashmi Shamali, a neighborhood of Amman mainly populated by Iraqi.
P1150063There we were mainly teaching Iraqis and Syrian but the help was also directed toward the other, less covered refugee populations.
As an instance, we were providing monthly food vouchers for Sudanese population that were a lot less helped than other (mainly because of their skin color and the undercover of the South Sudan war).
P1170003Every day 30 to 40 people were coming to the center for diverse services (social help, food vouchers, classes, psychological help, administrative support, kids after school clubs and activities etc …).
Weekly from the classes to the workshops until the donations distributions and vouchers distributions, we were running all over the city and the different area to sustain the work and to provide help where it was the most needed.
At the time, CRP was building up a new center in downtown Amman that could answer the needs of people more efficiently.
As a matter of fact, Hasmi Shamali was a good 5km away from the city center and so, most of the refugees and people based in Amman had to walk a long distance to reach the center which was making things more difficult for them.
Then, the NGO was planning to open a second center to more effectively reach all the population in need.
And even though the help was coming massively from the USA, the needs were still very high.

Chapter XXIV – Beyrouth – Lebanon

I arrived in Lebanon a Wednesday after few hours of flight. I was happy not having to carry Marcel with me and felt much better and lighter not having to worry about it.
I straight met Wael, who was waiting for me at the airport. 1 hour later I was arriving at Bukra Ahla center (better tomorrow), the place I was about to work at the coming two months.


interHere myself and the other volunteers coming from all over the place were working on behalf of the SB Overseas organization, a Belgian NGOs providing help for the displaced people and refugees of the area.



“SB” was operating in Belgium,  Turkey and Lebanon and had three centers in the country; one in Beirut nearby the overcrowded Shatila refugee camp, one in Saida in the biggest refugee shelter of Lebanon and another in Arsal in the Beeka valley next to the Syrian border where thousands of people where stuck…

I was affected in Beirut were I started teaching English,  science and math every day.





The first week was mainly spent on getting used to the workload and meeting the people. Akshita, Sophie, Malena, Juliette,  Abdullah and the other members of the center I was about to work with.



I was given a class to teach to and a curriculum to follow.
As far as I can remember, the teaching work was always something we were doing alongside the volunteering work,  but now, this was the volunteering work by itself and it meant a completely different thing.
P71104-121331-02 (1)
As I was already aware of the importance of education for the future of people (introduced at the salam school in Gaziantep two years ago and later in many other places…) I knew that the point here was much more than simply sharing knowledge.
It was about teaching the people empowering skills to help them in their future life. IMG-20171112-WA0014-02
More than this SB Overseas was somehow filling the education gap that 7 years of war was creating.
The NGO was based in Belgium but was operating in the most crucial places: Turkey and Lebanon, to support the Syrian refugees.
Here, in Lebanon, the organization was working in three specific places:  the capital Beirut, near the Shatila refugees camp; the Ouzai shelter of Saida, the biggest of Lebanon, and, in the surrounding of Arsal, the last city before Syria, where international volunteers were forbidden due to security reasons.

These kids, youth and women we were teaching to wouldn’t be able to go to the overwhelmed Lebanese schools (already receiving more Syrian than Lebanese kids) and Bukra Ahla center was somehow their only access to education.
DSC_0477 copy
Then the workload was impressive (and I’d lie telling I was the busiest teacher as I had to save time besides of the teaching work for the other parts of my work here).
The situation here reminds me the one in Turkey with the difference that in Lebanon, the hundreds of thousands of refugees were packed in a much tinier country.
Moreover,  the state was at the crossing between several unstable countries such as Syria, its direct neighbor, Palestine,  Israel and other bigger players of the area like Saudi Arabia and Iran which were involved in a Proxy war for a long time fighting to take over this piece of land.
But not only coming from outside, the instability came also from internal movements.
I’d say that, like two years ago in Turkey, you could fell that something was moving in the country, something intangible and blurry, but ready to burst anytime.
But still, this context didn’t affect the way we were operating. Here in Beirut nearby Shatila refugees camp, the work was tremendous.
The camp (more a slum than a camp, as it was built some 65 years ago for Palestinian refugees and was now a city ”in the city”) was supposed to host 3000 people, however, up to 50000 were living there, stuck like sardines in this tiny overcrowded space. The Bukra Ahla center was providing help to as many kids youth and women as possible, though we knew that it was just impossible to help everyone.
Every single day, hundreds of kids were coming to follow the classes. Separated in 3 shifts, the teachers were giving English, Science and Maths lessons alongside the Arabic lessons provided by the crew of the center.
It was all but easy to teach there, some kids barely knew how to write (even in Arabic) while some other had already good bases in English. Then we had to adjust our teaching plans regarding our students.
From handwriting lessons to phonics, listening practice to speaking, writing and reading … we had to cover all basics of the English language.
And I was lucky enough to be given one of the smartest class. I’d never forget the class Grade 1 – AE where I found some of the cutest kids ever. From the lovely Ali and Mohammad, the sweet and girlish Rouaa, Amouna and Kawthar passing by the nasty Walied and Moutaz … These twenty kids were making every single day an attraction.
Teaching them was an intense circus made of both, chaos, laugh and knowledge. It was everything but a quiet process and I felt like managing a bunch of cats and dogs put all together in the same space … a wilderness hard to contain sometimes. A harsh and fragile humanity, exploding sometimes in tears, in fights or laughs …


Another part of my job here was to document the work of the organization.  I have been sent to the different areas where SB was operating and could realize how important the organization was for the people.
In Saida a little town in the south coast, the school was within the ouazi shelter,  a huge disaffected school building were thousands of people were packed.  The place was a mess, a ruin…
Everything but a space you would like to live.
Nonetheless,  the refugees were based here and were living in harsh conditions for several years.
 This is in this context that the organization opened the school in the shelter. It was a huge work.  A difficult one…  As Kevin,  the director of the place told me. Having to deal with proximity, diseases, violence etc… was part of the daily work of the staff there and I assume their tasks were twice harder than ours.
But SB was also working in Arsal, a remote city in the Lebanese mountains bordering Syria. Arsal was in the beeka. I went to the valley before and found what I knew was happening there…  Thousands of people scattered here and there all over the place,  living in tents and shelters just as bad as you could expect.
Informal camps were popping up around the villages and you could barely tell how numerous were the people living there… But as far as I knew around 2 millions Syrians were in the country. That’s were SB was also trying to support the hard life of the people in needs.
In Arsal, their space was located in one of the many ”camps” surrounding the city.  Here the population was bigger…  The city was basically just a rock thrown away from the Syrian border and most of the people there couldn’t pass the checkpoint as they were ”clandestine”.
For these reasons,  and also because of the tensions in the area between several armed groups,  the place was controlled by the army which made the access to the location more difficult.
There,  the school was located in a small building neighboring the tents. The space was composed of the rudimentary material, just enough to keep the school running…  Chairs,  desks, boards one bathroom and rhalass …
You could tell by tasting the ambient temperature that the people there, both the staff and the students were freezing. The temperature in the mountains was really cold and walking through the camp you could see that nothing was prepared to pass the winter, to support the cold,  the wind and the snow…  And still,  the place was the busiest. IMG_3587
Every day 140 kids were coming to the school to learn French,  science,  maths and Arabic…  I felt that was the place where help was the most needed and I’m sad not to be able to work here.
But we had enough work to keep us busy in Beyrouth anyway.
P71207-074914-02 (1)Between the classes, the video works, the donations and distribution works,
the Christmas and new year’s eve events, the art projects and the peer exchange that I was continuing between my French student and the Shatila’s youth … P71207-155002-02 (1)
the two months I spent around the country have been as busy as usual.
So far, I’d say that it’s been one of the most important works I’ve been doing. One of the most useful and rewarding. I met some of the best people I ever know and being struggling with everyone, trying to work out something bright for the next generation, was something beautiful and life-changing. 
Yes, the situation is bad, yes there’s despair, struggle and harness. Yes, the country is unstable but it’s also what’s making it such a lively place full of contrast and diverse stories.
And I feel sad leaving the persons I love to carry on further in Jordan.
But yes I’ll return to Lebanon and I’ll stay there … It’s just a matter of time.

Chapter XXIII – Palermo, Italy

After few months spent in France working, studying and passing degrees, I was back on the roads again. To start the third year of my discovery journey, I decided to went back to Palermo.
Well,  before telling about it, I guess it’s better to talk about the plan for the coming year.
After the tough times,  I decided not to find myself in the same situation: it was too difficult carrying all of my life with me without any security.
Then I  first decided to become an online teacher, translator and writer to sustain myself anywhere at any time (basically I choose to go completely as a digital nomad and to work remotely from everywhere).
I passed several degrees,  applied what I knew of the digital business to my own lifestyle and it was done; I was now able to work from anywhere at anytime and to carry on volunteering as long as I could handle it.
Secondly, I planned where to go next. As I have been interrupted halfway during the journey,  I had to finish the circle. Then my destinations where still the Mediterranean coastal countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan etc…
And I knew this time, I wouldn’t go there with Marcel (which was too much of a burden to work efficiently on the field) so I decided to leave it in a place I knew it was about to be well used: the Astalli center in Palermo.
The last change in the project was the educational side project I was creating alongside my discovery of the humanitarian work: a peer exchange between youngs of the place I was going to.
It was a huge, involving and tiring process I was diving into…
Well,  this being established,  I had to start.
video2pic (6) (1)Elodie and I introduced the peer exchange project to two classes in the Valentin high school of Valence, then I left first for Genoa in northern Italy where I went back to meet Luca, a friend with whom I was working at the Genoa University of sociology.
Together, we gathered donations to fill Marcel once again.
Then I crossed Italy again and went back to the Sicilian capital; Palermo.
I’d say that nothing had really changed here while being completely different.
Passed the first few days where I was getting back to the routine while seeing the friends again,  I found myself returning to the habits with a surprising facility.
video2pic (7) (1)
This time was different: I knew the people (Emilio, MariaGiulia, Manuela, Linda, Giovanna, Richard, Giulia,  Graziella and all the other hardcore helpers who were still here,  doing the crucial work every day) and I knew the place and the work.
The breakfast, the clothing space, the sorting, advising appointments,  cleaning,  moving,  translating endless work…  was kind of engraved in my head.
video2pic (8) (1)
We also introduced Marcel to Emilio who was the most competent person to use and to take care of.(I have chosen to leave him my house on weel,  my gears…  Well,  all of my life in a way…)
The things were a bit different though. Now, the center was running several laboratories and workshops for the people in needs alongside the other services provided. The projects were going from sewing lessons to cooking classes passing by carpentry work and ceramic creation…
Astalli was also restoring a new area in the city; a place where new families could be hosted (we then had to go to Catania with Emilio to bring the necessary pieces of furniture).

video2pic (2) (1)
Some volunteers from Astalli were also sent to help other organizations when the Boats such as the Poseidon or the Aquarius were returning to the city, disembarking the people they had saved in the sea. The organizations were at that moment in a difficult situation, being accused of smuggling people through the Mediterranean sea, trafficking people on mainland Europe etc … so their passages in the ports were much quieter and fewer people were allowed to go to help them.
video2pic (3) (1)
Still, the newcomers were provided with all the necessary goods (sleeping bags, shoes, food and the other first assistance services like health care, social care etc …) and the 700 people (including East, West and North Africans, some Syrians and some 150 unaccompanied minors) were received smoothly.

Another thing I wasn’t used to was to run this peer exchange project.
We, Linda and I, had to find the right time and the to introduce the project to the kids. Then, when receiving the letters (I couldn’t handle the overwhelming happiness when receiving the first envelope) we had to start giving the mail to the center’s school students.
It was just the first step of this year exchange experience but it was an indescribable feeling doing the postman and helping the kids working out their way to responding to their correspondent.
I spent a month and a half in the city. As always, the time has passed quickly and I felt like I only spent a week rushing and working. I also used this time to plan the next steps of the project: a quick passage by Tunisia before going to Lebanon for the coming winter.

Chapter XIV – Kara Tepe – Lesvos

I was in France, working on the first part of the documentary, editing recording voice over, translating interview etc… I was also planning the second part, looking at the different place I would go and how to get there when Fred from HSA called me.

He asked me to come back here in Kara Tepe, Lesvos to continue the documentation and video work I started there by winter 2015. 
As soon as possible I booked a flight and leave for the island.

Somehow I knew that the things were different there now that the EU-Turkish deal was in place, but I didn’t expect the things to be so drastically changed. I arrived on Lesvos few days after the Fred call and met him and David at the Mytilini airport. They drove me straight to the camp to show me how it has evolved over the last few months. First, the place looked the same to me, I even met some good friend I made across the volunteers of the camp last winter like Sara who was still working there, but soon I realized how much everything has changed: new infrastructures, new offices, sanitary area etc … The camp was now turned into something new: a long-term humanity base. And as the people couldn’t move further anymore due to the deal, they were staying and living here.

First I felt strange experiencing this kind of “neighborhood atmosphere”, Kara Tepe was really feeling even like a Holliday camp kind of … Everyone was smiling, the kids were running and playing all over the place… Cinema screening and activities such as football and kindergarten were happening every day … You could not feel the stress and the pressure that we were experiencing last winter when the boats were still arriving every day. And it was strange not to feel this tension, not to expect the phone to ring at any moment to warn you that a boat was arriving. To not be in “emergency mode” was disturbing as you would feel everything was alright but though, the work was still crucial and of course, to not have boat arrivals didn’t mean we had nothing to do …

Between school, food distribution, close distribution, sorting and storing donations etc … Many things were still needed. We weren’t facing an emergency humanitarian crisis anymore but were running a long-term support for the thousand people stacked there.
Of course they couldn’t move, but still, they needed a place to live by the time they’re waiting. And our work was to make the life less difficult for everyone and to sustainably make them passing through the process of getting the asylum. So we were working every day … Little by little … Slowly but surely we were sustaining the effort.

Our tasks were basically the same than the last winter but they were taking a different form. The food distribution was for example driven by Sara. She was one of the most devoted person I ever met and she was doing everything she could for the people of the camp. Then she had the idea to change the process of the food distribution, and to make it easier for the refugees, she organized a daily door to door food distribution service.
And it was way better than just delivering the meal in front of a queue of starving people, it was way more exhausting of course, as we were carrying heavy food boxes all over the camp, but at the end, everyone was happier this way. We were getting to know our people better, they were glad we were going to them. And I think this was one of the things that was making the difference between our group and the other NGO in place.
We were going to them.

Also, the clothes distribution was not a mess anymore as we were delivering the goods based on a appointments schedule so that we would focus on fewer people every day but we would be able to respond to their needs more efficiently. One of my other task in the camp was to take over the French lessons in the school HSA was running. Indeed, African people were among the refugees and were also asking for education. Then I met their kids and started to teach them every day trying to cover the whole spectrum of the basic education. It’s weird to realize how useful your knowledge can be as little as it is.
I never expected to be a teacher but I discovered myself a new utility that could make a change in these people lives. And it’s funny to think that you could never be a teacher in France without at least a master or something similar while here, the little you know makes you running classes of writing, mathematics, geography etc …

And I was also driving unofficial French lessons for Arabic speakers, working hard to make it through Arabic, English and French. 

And for an entire month, while working hard to make the life in the camp sustainable, I discovered how the crisis changed and how the EU-Turkish deal had an impact on people life. I realized the difference between helping in an emergency situation and a long-term humanitarian support which is completely different but as important and crucial.

For an entire month, I realized we were not only helping the “refugees”: we were living with them. They were part of our lives, part of the people we were seeing all day long. They were friends. And it was tricky to keep the distinction clear as you were willing to spend some time with them, just enjoying spending good moments and to get closer to them … but you also had to keep in mind that you couldn’t get too close … you had to keep a gap and to stay neutral. They were still “refugees” and you were still “humanitarian volunteer” and that meant you had responsibilities towards them. 

This was a pain and a difficult thing to do. We were so close to them, doing so many things together, drawing, swimming, singing, gardening, learning, joking … well, basically all the good things you’re doing in the life with the people you love BUT you were not allowed to see them as your friends as for the NGO’s they were first “people in need” that we were helping.

I’d say that this situation made me question myself on how important was the human relation through a crisis like this. I asked myself if it was possible to help people with humanity. To help “your friends” passing through a critical situation and to be fair enough to be equal with everyone. 

I think it’s one of the most tricky things in the humanitarian work.

Chapitre XIV – Kara Tepe – Lesbos

J’étais en France, travaillant sur la première partie du documentaire (montage, voix-off, traduction etc …) tout en planifiant la deuxième partie du parcours (de ce projet qui maintenant était devenu bien plus que son but initial), regardant les différents endroits où j’irais etc . lorsque je reçu l’appel de Fred, de HSA me demandant de revenir ici à Kara Tepe, Lesbos pour continuer la documentation et le travail vidéo que j’avais commencé par l’hiver 2015.
Aussitôt que possible, j’ai réservé un vol et parti pour l’île.
D’une certaine manière, je savais que les choses étaient différentes là-bas maintenant que l’accord UE-Turquie était en place, mais je ne m’attendais pas à ce qu’elles le soient si drastiquement. Je suis arrivé à Lesbos quelques jours après l’appel de Fred; lui et David son venue me chercher à l’aéroport de Mytilini. Ils m’ont conduit directement au camp pour me montrer comment il avait évolué au cours des derniers mois. Tout d’abord, l’endroit m’a semblé le même, j’ai même rencontré de bons amis qui étaient déjà présents l’hiver dernier comme Sara, Shareen etc . mais bientôt j’ai compris combien tout avait changé: nouvelles infrastructures, nouveaux bureaux, nouvelles zones sanitaires, etc. …. Le camp avait été transformé en quelque chose de nouveau: une base humanitaire à long terme. Et comme les gens ne pouvaient plus bouger davantage en raison du nouveau deal, ils restaient et vivaient ici.


D’abord, je trouvais étonnante, cette sorte d’atmosphère de quartier; Kara Tepe faisait même penser (à première vue) a un genre de centre de vacances … Tout le monde était souriant, les enfants couraient et jouaient partout … Cinéma en plein air et activités telles que le football et la maternelle se produisaient chaque jour … Vous ne pouviez pas ressentir le stress et la pression que nous éprouvions l’hiver dernier lorsque les bateaux arrivaient tous les jours. Et c’était étrange de ne pas ressentir cette tension, de ne pas s’attendre à ce que le téléphone sonne à tout moment pour vous avertir qu’un bateau arrivait. Ne pas être en «mode d’urgence» était dérangeant car c’était comme si tout allait bien alors que le travail était encore crucial et, bien sûr, ne pas avoir d’arrivées de bateaux ne signifiait pas que nous n’avions rien à faire …
Entre l’école, la distribution rapprochée des aliments, le tri et le stockage des dons, etc. Beaucoup de choses étaient encore nécessaires. Nous n’Etions plus confrontés à une crise humanitaire d’urgence, mais nous soutenions à long terme les milliers de personnes qui étaient bloqués, cloitres dans le camp.
Bien sûr, ils ne pouvaient pas bouger, mais ils avaient toujours besoin d’un endroit pour vivre le temps d’obtenir leur statut de demandeur d’asile. Et notre travail était de rendre la vie moins difficile pour tout le monde et de les faire passer durablement et surement dans le processus d’obtention de l’asile. Nous travaillions tous les jours … petit à petit … Lentement, mais sûrement, nous soutenions l’effort.
Nos tâches étaient fondamentalement les mêmes que le dernier hiver, mais elles adoptaient une forme différente. La distribution alimentaire été conduite par Sara (l’une des personnes les plus dévouées que j’ai pu rencontrer le long de la route) et elle faisait tout ce qu’elle pouvait (littéralement, elle venait de donner un an de sa vie) pour les gens du camp. Pour eux, elle avait eu l’idée de changer le processus de distribution des aliments, et pour faciliter leurs vies, elle avait organisé un service quotidien de distribution de nourriture de porte à porte.
Et c’était bien mieux que de livrer le repas devant une file d’attente de personnes affamées; bien plus épuisant, bien sûr, car nous transportions de lourdes boîtes alimentaires partout dans le camp, mais à la fin, tout le monde était plus heureux de cette façon. Nous connaissions mieux les gens, ils étaient heureux. Et je pense que c’était l’une des choses qui faisaient la différence entre notre groupe et les autres ONG’s en place.
Nous allions à eux.
We were going to them.


En outre, la distribution des vêtements n’était plus le bordel que nous avions connu puisque nous livrions les marchandises en fonction d’un calendrier des rendez-vous afin de se concentrer sur moins de personnes chaque jour, mais d’être en mesure de répondre plus efficacement à leurs besoins.
Une de mes autres tâches dans le camp était de me charger des leçons de français dans l’école d’HSA. En effet, des Africains (Cameroun, Centrafrique, RDC) étaient parmi les réfugiés et demandaient également des études. J’ai rencontré leurs enfants et commencé à leur apprendre chaque jour à essayer de couvrir tout le spectre de l’éducation de base. C’est étrange de se rendre compte de l’utilité de votre connaissance (aussi mediocre soit-elle).
Je ne m’étais encore jamais attendu à être un enseignant, mais je me suis decouvert une nouvelle utilité qui pouvait changer, à son échelle, le mode de vie de ces personnes. C’est amusant de penser que jamais je n’aurais pu être professeur en France sans au moins un MASTER ou quelque chose de semblable, alors que le peu que je connaissais ici, me faisait mener des cours d’écriture, de mathématiques, de géographie, etc.
Et je donnais également des leçons de français hors classe pour les arabophones, travaillant dur pour faire ma soupe entre l’Arabe, l’Anglais et le Français.
Pendant plus d’un mois, tout en travaillant dur pour rendre la vie dans le camp meilleure et durable, j’ai découvert comment la crise avait changé et comment l’accord UE-Turquie avait impacté sur la vie des gens. Je me suis rendu compte de la différence entre aider dans une situation d’urgence et supporter un travail humanitaire à long terme: deux choses complètement différentes, mais aussi importante et cruciale.

Pendant un mois entier, j’ai compris qu’il n’était plus seulement question d’aider les «réfugiés»: nous vivions avec eux. Ils faisaient partie de nos vies, une partie des gens que nous voyions toute la journée. C’étaient nos amis et, il était délicat de garder une distinction claire car vous étiez disposé à passer du temps avec eux, tout simplement en profitant de bons moments, à vous rapprocher d’eux … mais vous deviez garder à l’esprit que vous ne pouviez pas être trop proche … garder un ” espace ” et rester neutre. Ils étaient encore «réfugiés» et vous étiez toujours «volontaire humanitaire» et cela signifiait que vous aviez des responsabilités à leur égard.

C’était douloureux parfois et souvent, une chose difficile à faire. Nous étions tellement proches d’eux, faisions tant de choses ensemble, dessiner, nager, chanter, jardiner, apprendre, blaguer … bref, toutes les bonnes choses qu’on fait dans la vie avec les gens qu’on aime, a la différence qu’ici, vous n’étiez pas autorisé à les considérer- comme vos amis: pour les ONG, ils étaient d’abord des «personnes dans le besoin» que nous devions aider.

Je dirais que cette situation m’a permis de me questionner sur l’importance de la relation humaine lors d’une crise comme celle-ci. Ça m’a fait me demander s’il était possible d’aider les gens avec humanité sans perdre notre efficacité. Pour aider «vos amis» à traverser une situation critique, d’être juste et équitable à tous. Peut-on aider une personne qu’on aime comme on aide le dernier des connards?

Je pense que c’est l’une des choses les plus difficiles dans le travail humanitaire.

Chapter XII – Valence – France

After roughly 8 months on the roads through the different countries related to the migration crisis, I finally end up going back to France. Being back to the safety and the “civilization” as we used to see it…
But something changed, and I wasn’t really the same than I was before.

First, I had to go back because of conferences and workshops I needed to run in High Schools around Valence in the Drome region. I had never though I was about to tell my story and to talk about what I was doing this way. Basically, it wasn’t the goal of my project and I was more inclined to DO things instead of talking about, but I also realized it was an important thing to do specifically with students who were in the age of thinking by themselves and building the world of tomorrow.

And to interact with them made me realized how much they all wanted to help but how lost they were regarding the practical ways to actually do it (exactly like me when I first leave to start the project). I was amazed by the faith they had in the future, but at the meantime the sadness and the weakness they were feeling regarding their own capacity to make a change.


20160407_201326With Elodie, Cecile and few other good and active people of the region, we ran a couple of these conferences to raise awareness across the students and it was so successful that we start building a long term collaboration to continue to have a link with the school and to run this interaction for the year to come.
And I’m thankful to them, as they all helped me realized that, more than experiencing the crisis in the field and making relevant things on the ground, it was also crucial to share these experiences with the ones that, tomorrow, would be the citizen of the world.

Chapitre XII – Valence – France

Après environ 8 mois sur les routes à travers les différents pays liés à la crise migratoire, j’ai fini par revenir en France. Retrouvant la sécurité et à la «civilisation» comme nous la imaginions …

Mais quelque chose avait changé, et je n’étais pas vraiment le même qu’avant.

Tout d’abord, je devais rentrer au pays en raison de conférences et d’ateliers que je devais mener dans des lycées autour de Valence dans la région de la Drôme. Je n’avais jamais imaginé que j’étais sur le point de raconter mon histoire et de parler de ce que je faisais de cette façon. Fondamentalement, ce n’était pas l’objectif de mon projet et j’étais plus enclin à “faire” des choses concrètes plutôt que d’en parler, mais je me suis également rendu compte que c’était une démarche importante à faire spécifiquement avec les étudiants qui étaient à l’âge de penser par eux-mêmes et de construire le Monde de demain.


Et d’interagir avec eux me fit me rendre compte qu’ils voulaient tous aider, mais qu’ils leur manquaient les informations et la pratique pour le faire (exactement comme moi lorsque je suis partis pour commencer le projet). J’étais émerveillée par la foi qu’ils avaient dans l’avenir, mais en même temps, par la tristesse et la faiblesse qu’ils éprouvaient à propos de leur propre capacité à changer les choses.



Avec Élodie, Cecile et quelques autres personnes fondamentalement bonnes et actives de la région, nous avons organisé quelques-unes de ces conférences pour sensibiliser les étudiants et devant le retour des jeunes, devant l’intérêt et la demande générale, nous avons choisi de lancer une collaboration à long terme pour continuer à avoir un lien entre ce projet et l’école pour exécuter cette interaction pour l’année à venir.
Et je les remercie, car ils m’ont tous aidé à constater que, plus que l’expérience de la crise sur le terrain est la réalisation de choses qui, certes ne meraitaient aucun discours ou quoique se soit de plus … il était également crucial de partager ces expériences avec ceux qui, demain, seraient les citoyen du monde.


Chapitre XI – Sid – Serbie


Nous avons quitté Belgrade avec une autre volontaire pour nous rendre à la frontière serbo-croate à proximité de la petite ville de Sid. Après un trajet de 2 heures, nous sommes arrivés à l’endroit où nous avons été accueillis par Aleksandra, responsable du groupe humanitaire de la “Tchèque-team” de l’ONG “People In Need”.


exile (418 of 500)

J’avais rencontré Aleksandra une semaine plus tôt dans une réunion à Belgrade concernant la situation des réfugiés à la frontière et j’étais désireux d’en savoir plus sur leurs conditions là-bas maintenant que ces frontières étaient fermées … D’une certaine manière, je m’attendais à ce que la situation soit pire que cela, plus chaotique …

Aleksandra m’a raconté les détails des conditions humanitaires des réfugiés durant les dernières semaines. Ils me semblaient avoir reçu un bon traitement. Sur les camps qui restaient dans Sid, nous opérions à Adasid, un motel et un garage près d’une station-service sur la route E70 menant à Zagreb et à Presovat qui était un ancien hôpital construit près de la forêt qui a été transformé en un lieu pour les réfugiés maintenant coincés là.

Maintenant que la frontière était fermée, personne ne pouvait plus aller de l’avant … Tous les migrants étaient bloqués là sans savoir quoi faire, où aller, quand partir etc. Ce qui m’aurait rendu extrêmement inquiet. Pourtant jusqu’à présent, ils semblaient bien s’acclimater à cette situation délicate et je les trouvais plus relax et calmes que prévu. Le fait qu’ils restent dans des bâtiments appropriés et approximattivement propre devait les aider à ne pas devenir fous et à essayer quelque chose de bête. Pourtant, nous pouvions voir des taxis aller et venir pendant la journée, ce qui signifiait que, même avec les frontières fermées, les gens continuaient à traverser, en utilisant des passeurs et les trafficants au lieu de la voie officielle.

Les camps étaient moins peuplés jour après jour … Les gens s’en allaient.

Seules les grandes familles restaient là, bloquées … Ne pouvant progresser davantage en raison des enfants ou du manque d’argent. Cela ne signifiait pas pour autant que nous n’ayons rien à faire, loin de la … En fait, c’était même le contraire, alors que les gens dans l’organisation étaient sur le point de quitter l’endroit. Nous avions besoin de jouer avec les enfants tous les jours. Nous devions régler les différents problèmes des familles, etc. Supprimer et nettoyer tous les aires de stockage (que l’organisation utilisait depuis 5 mois) afin d’envoyer les vêtements et les dons à Idomeni où ils étaient plus nécessaires.

Les derniers jours à la frontière ont été étranges et tristes, car je savais que j’allais retourner en Europe de l’Ouest, en France … Et j’avais tout, sauf envie de perdre mon but, revenir au confort, au moderne et soi-disant “monde civilisé” … Et je ne voulais pas … Je ne pouvais plus faire face à l’ignorance, après avoir connu le désordre que mes pays répandaient autour d’eux …

Je me sentais mourir en passant, à rebours, les frontières … sans aucun problème “moi”… En retournant triste et déprimé vers l’Europe, toutes les personnes que j’ai rencontrées et aidées étaient avec moi mais ne pouvaient traverser …
Situation ironique ….


Chapter X – Belgrade – Serbie


Repasser à nouveau la frontière macédonienne serbe fut un défi, j’ai été en difficulté tous les derniers passages que j’ai accomplis à travers les check-points … Être incité à payer des backshishs pour les Serbes, être contrôlé pendant des heures sous prétexte de présomption de trafic de drogue, de traite ou trafic d’humains, etc. …. être volés par la police de la frontière macédonienne … bien … Honnêtement, je n’étais pas à l’aise de passer à nouveau le point de contrôle Tabanovce-Presevo … Mais, de façon surprenante, cela s’est bien passé et mon chemin vers Belgrade a été l’un des plus directs.

Après avoir traversé le pays en une nuit, après un court sommeil dans une station-service, je suis finalement arrivé à l’ancienne capitale yougoslave. Trouver le camp miksaliste a été plus facile que prévu et pour la première fois, j’arrivais sur la place à ma première tentative. Ensuite, après une introduction rapide à l’équipe de coordination, j’ai commencé le travail de suite.


exile (395 of 500)Miksaliste est une ancienne salle de concerts utilisés pour les festivals d’été dans le quartier des quais de Belgrade où se basait la majeure partie de la vie culturelle de la ville. De nos jours, le gouvernement Serbe reconstruit le quai d’une manière totalement différente, avec des auberges de jeunesse “hype”, des hôtels de luxe et tout une gamme de merdes excessivement chères … exile (394 of 500)Le camp est placé directement au milieu de cette zone sur un espace carré qui pourrait recevoir environ mille personnes.

Les concerts ont été supprimées et l’infrastructure du lieu est utilisée pour l’aide. exile (393 of 500)Les étagères de stockage, les conteneurs qui étaient censées accueillir des artistes étaient maintenant utilisés comme des douches, des toilettes, etc. qui servaient à recevoir les personnes dans les besoins.

exile (400 of 500)

Au final, les Serbes, au vu de leurs moyens et de la situation catastrophique de l’été 2015, avaient réussi à gérer la crise avec beaucoup d’efficacité.exile (406 of 500)

exile (386 of 500)Pendant les derniers mois, je me suis habituée à ce travail, en préparant du thé, du café, du tri, de la nourriture, etc . «seuls l’endroit et les gens changent, le travail est toujours le même …» exile (385 of 500)En disant cela, je me rendais compte de ce que j’avais fait pendant les 7 derniers mois, et j’étais en quelque sortes prêtes à faire face à tout type de situation. exile (387 of 500)Ensuite, même si le travail était encore difficile, même s’il était toujours troublant et pénible de voir ces personnes qui luttent pour survivre, j’étais maintenant confiant pour gérer l’ensemble de ce processus d’aide. exile (397 of 500)exile (384 of 500)Et je dirais que le bénévolat dans le camp de miksaliste a été l’une des parties les plus faciles du voyage.


exile (401 of 500)C’est peut-être venu des gens qui m’entourent, une ribambelle de Serbes et d’autres volontaires internationaux qui se sont autant impliqués que moi, un paquet de volontaires venus des quatre coins du globe.



exile (405 of 500)Nous travaillions tous ensemble tous les jours et passions la majeure partie de notre soirée à siroter et à parler au café mikser ou au KC Grad Club. D’une certaine manière, nous Étions tous sur la même longueur d’onde, tous énervés par les horribles nouvelles de la fin des routes des Balkans, tous essayant de comprendre quelle était la meilleure façon d’aider … exile (396 of 500)Finalement, je pense que la ville a joué un grand rôle dans mon expérience car il y avait toujours quelque chose à faire, toujours quelqu’un à rencontrer et j’ai même trouvé le temps de m’amuser à faire quelque chose qui n’est pas lié à la crise …
Je me suis fait de bons amis, j’ai travaillé dur et j’ai trouvé de vraies personnes, de bonnes personnes qui ont partagé leurs expériences, nos passions communes venant créer une force plus grande qui espérons-le, nous ferait surmonter les choses.

exile (407 of 500)

exile (410 of 500)

Et même si la route des Balkans était «officiellement fermée», rien n’a vraiment changé et nous voyions des personnes arrivant d’Afghanistan, d’Irak, d’Afrique du Nord, etc. tous les jours.exile (409 of 500)

exile (412 of 500)J’ai même découvert que la ville était le point d’arrivée de nombreux autres réfugiés et demandeurs d’asile tels que bosniaques, Kosovars, albanais … (Les populations qui souffrent encore de la chute de la Yougoslavie et de la guerre des Balkans des 90″), exile (411 of 500)mais aussi Ukrainien, Russe, les Iraniens et d’autres personnes qui fuyaient le gouvernement de leur pays pour une quelconque raison, plus souvent en raison du manque de droits de l’homme, de conflits religieux et sociaux ….


Chaque jour, au moins 30 à 40 nouveaux arrivants s’entassaient dans l’afghani parc”, le premier espace devant la gare routière et ferroviaire de la capitale. Ensuite, ils arrivaient à miksaliste. Et chaque soir, on pouvait apercevoir ces mêmes personnes dormantes dehors dans le parc ou dans les rues. Ils étaient ravis que le temps devienne plus chaud, même s’il faisait encore froid … et que les choses ne s’arrangeraient pas avec la météo…