In Auvergne, the Secours Populaire camp allows disadvantaged children to go on vacation

In Auvergne, the Secours Populaire camp allows disadvantaged children to go on vacation

The electric blue tatami has been transformed into a real ring. A dozen children run in all directions to escape the “crocodile”. The cries resound to the top of the Puy de Sancy (Puy-de-Dôme), at the foot of which takes place the competition of the colony Copain du monde, Secours populaire. Walkers stop, amused. “Ladies and gentlemen, come and take part in our solidarity Olympics! The price is free”, says Léa, clinging to her microphone. The 16-year-old Malagasy man holds the welcome stand and fervently harangues the hikers who pass by. The funds will be donated to an association in his country that works to educate children.

Behind its air of a classic colony, the ten-day stay takes on a particular dimension. While a majority of the 36 participants aged 11 to 20 come from the Clermont-Ferrand region, twelve of them arrived in early July from Madagascar and four others from Guyana. In the group, a large part comes from disadvantaged backgrounds and could not have changed horizons this summer without the support of the Secours populaire. In France, 10.6% of people under 16 do not go on vacation*. A situation that the government wants to correct by creating a “colo pass” from 2024 to allow teenagers aged 10 and 11 to leave their daily life in the summer thanks to financial assistance. In the meantime, the Secours populaire is providing the means to bring this original initiative to life, which combines solidarity and the mixing of nationalities.

*Insee, March 2023.

strong ties

In the green setting of the Super-Besse ski area transformed into a paradise for mountain bikers, worries have evaporated. “Most of our young people already know what this means, because they have lived or are still living in very precarious situations,” says Alena Pelle, head of children and youth at the Secours populaire du Puy-de-Dôme. . Gathered for these ten days of camps, the children share the daily life whatever their social and cultural origin.

“That’s solidarity: a world of all colors here in Besse,” says Nicole Rouvet, national secretary of Secours Populaire. In total, this year, twenty-eight Copain du monde stays are taking place, five are taking place abroad. In Annot (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), forty children from Belgium, France, Morocco, Poland and Senegal met in July. In Tantonville (Meurthe-et-Moselle), there are thirty-six children from Benin, France and Serbia… The cost of the French stay is financed by the Secours populaire and its annual actions. A contribution is requested from families according to their resources. It does not exceed 400 euros.

During these camps, intercultural exchange is omnipresent. After the shyness of the first meeting, the young people now seem to have known each other for months. Angel, 16, straight from Guyana, 7,000 km from the volcanoes of Auvergne, considers himself lucky: “With these encounters, we understand that we do not all have the same weapons in life. However, we have a lot to learn from each other, we just have to overcome the language barrier.” From then on, links were forged, and a common passion was found: rugby. It is thanks to the partnership with the Malagasy Rugby Federation that some of the children of this country were able to come to Super-Besse this summer, on the grounds of the famous ASM Clermont Auvergne club.

grow together

During the week, a strong moment marked the spirits. At a vigil, each received a culturally related gift from another attendee. Robert, 18, proudly shows off his Madagascar pearl bracelet. For several years, he joined the Copain colonies of the world. This edition is a bit special, because he passed his BAFA diploma (certificate of aptitude for the functions of animator) there which he prepared during the stay. Next summer, he and other young people will be able to join the supervisors. “During the holidays, it’s important to leave your parents, he says. I grew up a lot thanks to these camps. I would be proud to allow others to live this experience”.

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