Can you briefly tell us about yourself and your journey?
After taking the Bac, I gravitated toward international studies. Today I have a degree in international trade. My studies compelled me to intern abroad. Having developed a taste in
living in countries other than France, I decided to do civic service abroad after graduation. I then found myself in the Philippines, in Manila, within Virlanie foundation. After this mission which lasted six months, I applied for a post in VSI for an even longer and important stay.
Can you introduce Virlanie and its work in the Philippines?
Virlanie is an NGO created by French social worker Dominique Lemay in 1992. The primary task is to take care and look out for young children who roam the poorest of streets and locate them to houses to provide better and more stable living conditions. Virlanie also helps these children to school, feeds and sustains them with food and drink, and looks out for their mental and physical health. In 2017, 223 children lived in these houses set up by the organization.
Why did you choose to engage with the framework of civil service exactly?
I wanted to commit myself to a social structure for some time now. And also, my affinity for the international arena convinced me of the idea to apply for an international civic service which would also give me the chance to live like a real expatriate. The advantage of having an allowance while also living in another country is a genuine opportunity and motivation for carrying out civic service in an international scale.
What are your missions?
I have connected to sponsorship services. I was in charge of managing relation between sponsors in France and children in these houses. My daily tasks covered a wide and diverse range, including translating sent cards to sponsors, creating booklets on sponsorship, and participating in events with professionals in the house and organizing activities in the houses with the children.
What cross-cultural aspects should be factored in?
The cross-cultural aspects that should be taken into account or factored in are primarily the communication links and barriers. The Philippines doesn’t like conflict and never says no; it is sometimes challenging to juggle with that. But the biggest asset of the archipelago is the daily kindness of Filipinos. Every single day, you are called out in the streets, albeir always positively; everyone in the street knows your nickname and wishes to spend some time with you. It’s overall an experience that is really fascinating and makes it comfortable to live.
What are the difficult aspects? What is your best memory?
At the outset, my challenges were perhaps adapting to the way of life with children in the houses. The first month we were in a complete immersion but at the end of one week, everyone was dealing with everything well because the kindness was just unbelievable.
I can’t really keep one best memory because all my experiences have been extraordinary so far! Living with these children, my work, my travels, and the encounters that I was able to do will forever be etched in my memory.
Your view of the Philippines…
UNBELIEVABLE! The people are perfectly kind, the landscapes are beautiful. The Philippines really is a gem (or jewel)!
Any advice for future volunteers?
Make the most out of every moment, the difficulties that will come to you will enable you to go far in your adventure and, above all, keep an open mind.