Volunteering Stories: Life in Manosque – by Alina P.

My name is Alina and in recent months I have lived in Manosque, a town in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. Here I am a volunteer in the European Solidarity Corps and I work in an association called Eclat de Lire.

My mission, as it is called the accumulation of specific goals, is to help children and young people develop their passion for reading and to facilitate access to books for children with fewer opportunities in the nearby town and villages. Working in a social association in France is an activity that offers access to a lot of knowledge, personal and professional development, and interaction with the local population.

Although the number of employees is small, the number of volunteers is large, and their activity is sustained and constant… and from what I noticed this is how most French associations work.



In terms of my tasks, in addition to office work, two activities that I participate in weekly and are dear to me are the intervention in nurseries and the so-called street library (Bibliothèque de rue). The first involves the intervention with 2 other people in certain nurseries and spending an hour with children aged 3 years or less while reading and showing books. Of course, books are made especially for very young children and often involve simple games and colorful pictures. It is an incomparable activity to see a little baby interacting with books or listening to them when you read to them. The second activity I think is essential for many children around the age of 10 in the city. We go weekly in most of the less advantaged neighborhoods in established places, with boxes of various books as content and subject. I can say that comic books (Bande Dessinée) are a resounding success! In this activity, children can discover books, to read on their own or for someone else to read them. In most cases the native language of these children is not French. Their presence is constant and I believe that this activity, which has been going on for almost 10 years, is changing lives.

Speaking of everyday life in France, I can say it offers an experience with unique aspects and I am very happy that I decided to take part in this opportunity.

Moreover, I can add that in my experience and that of the other volunteers from the same host organization, the financial compensation is enough for the daily expenses and although the transport is expensive in France, we received a 90% discount card for trains and buses throughout the southern region and that makes a major difference.