LANGUAGE: A TOOL FOR COPING WITH DAILY LIFE
Slideshow of the French team’s work
Since the end of 2015, the Première Urgence Internationale teams have been offering sociolinguistic workshops to the most vulnerable communities in the Ile-de-France area. At the same time, ‘discover and play’ activities and a vegetable garden have been available for children.
‘This morning, we’re going to talk about State Medical Assistance. Here is a standard form for applying for this,’ explains Ninon Bascou, social inclusion project manager for the Première Urgence Internationale French team, to those taking part. On Friday morning, Ninon offers to go through a document allowing people to apply for State Medical Assistance (AME), a benefit which allows them access to medical care.
Since the end of 2015, Première Urgence Internationale has been setting up sociolinguistic workshops. The aim is to bring French language skills to adults who have not mastered the language or who have had little education. These classes are directed at those most vulnerable. ‘Quite often, people come and sign up for the purposes of improving their level of French, in order to find a job or to become more independent in their everyday life’, explains Ninon. The workshops involve two levels of training with extremely practical topics. People learn about how to present themselves, how to get to grips with official documents and where to go to apply for benefits and other rights, as well as how to write a CV or an application letter.
Since May, twenty people have followed these workshops run by volunteer trainers. ’We are in a position to accept more people and so we are recruiting more volunteers. People who have some time, a few hours each week, to devote to this training,’ explains Ninon Bascou.
‘Discover and play’ and a vegetable garden
In parallel to this training, Première Urgence Internationale is offering educational and fun workshops for children from 3 to 13 years old. ‘They let parents who want to take part in the language classes leave their children for a few hours with our teams who have set up discover and play activities.’
In the garden of the counselling centre in Ivry-sur-Seine, children are growing lettuces, aubergines and radishes in a vegetable patch brought to life by volunteers. For Delia (10), Cosmina (5) and Andra (13), ‘this activity teaches us new things while enjoying the garden amongst friends’.
Louise is 19 years old. She is doing voluntary civic service and organises occasional ‘discover and play’ and vegetable garden workshops. For her, this experience is particularly rewarding: ‘I’ve learned a lot about living conditions for the people living in slum settlements. I’ve even bought a plane ticket to visit Romania at the end of September!’
These are projects that feed upon life experiences and encounters. These activities also stem from a need identified by Première Urgence Internationale’s mobile teams who travel around to carry out health work with communities in squats and slum settlements in the Ile-de-France area. Ninon explains: ‘Learning the language isn’t a priority for these people, who often need to find solutions to more basic needs such as feeding their family or getting a roof over their heads. Yet some people manage to summon up the energy to attend these workshops and I find that truly admirable’. She concludes: ‘It’s really motivating for all the volunteers’.