This year 2023 marks a new turning point for ACAY Marseille. Last February, the entire team left for Manila, taking two young people with them on a 10-day volunteer mission in ACAY Philippines. Among the team members, Ines Sedrati, who has been in charge of partnerships and communication for the past three years, tells us about her immersion and her experience at ACAY Philippines with young people.
Last year, we observed that some of our young people from Marseille were showing leadership skills and were willing to give testimony to the ACAY partners. By giving back what they have received, they help lift up other youth in need, they inspire people listening to them. This led us to design the “ACAY Ambassadors” program with a group of youth who have journeyed with us. The experience of Idrisse who, since then, became an ACAY staff, had been so impactful that the idea of taking others to the Philippines emerged. The project was finalized with 2 youths: Aimane, and Yanis. Two main objectives: Experience ACAY in the Philippines to reinforce the feeling of belongingness to the ACAY family and then to give them the opportunity to fully embody their role as ACAY ambassadors.
At the School of Life, I shared special times and life experiences with the girls, as well as with the staff of ACAY Philippines. Imagine working with people from a distance and building close relationships with them for 3 years, then meeting them for real. What a thrill!
The first day was particularly memorable for me. We started with a visit to a juvenile prison where Nino and Edward, two former youths accompanied by ACAY, had been incarcerated. We were speechless by seeing the poor conditions of detention, such an extreme compared to those in Marseille. However, the exchange of testimonies was inspiring for our ambassadors as well as for the young prisoners.
We also improvised a basketball game against the kids from the squatters, and that was the event of the day! We disrupted their usual routine and our heads and hearts were filled with memories.
Thanks to the tools such as the Genogram and the Lifeline, this stay in the Philippines allowed us to consolidate the work on self-awareness that had begun in Marseille.
Last 2019, Idrisse had been the first young person from Marseille to come to the Philippines. This time as a staff, he took on the role of “Captain of the team”, transmitting to the youth all he had previously received. Today, while staff in ACAY, he is studying to become a monitor educator. His presence was extremely precious for our youth who experienced for the first time such a trip.
It was memorable and will remain so moving for me to see the Marseille youth giving their testimonies. They realized the journey that they had done. Despite the language barrier, we could sense so deeply the hope that they shared with youth who have experienced challenges in life.
The journey continues. Now, the future goal with this group is to create a solid group ready to support ACAY to reach out to other generations of youths.
Before this trip, I used to talk about ACAY as if I had already been to the Philippines. Now that I have been there, “everything makes sense”. I came back full of ambition, like a new breath to breathe into our youth in Marseille and the team.
Communication and Fundraising Officer