Portrait of a volunteer: Justine

Justine is a volunteer of the IVO4All project. A project aiming to allow service civic missions abroad for young people with fewer opportunities. With GINKGO organization, she left for Togo in June for a six month mission to support the local development of the association.

« At almost 21 years old, i always had trouble to adapt to traditional school and preferred to try things on my own. This is why I considered volunteering as an essential experience to my future. Experiencing new ways to see things, opening my mind, learn differently, to be confident in my expectations and maybe discover some new ones has always been essential to me, such as feeling useful.

On site, my mission consisted in supporting all the projects of the association which aim to better education and promotion of children’s rights, to more autonomy and empowerment of the population in rural areas, through participative projects. I was also charged to assure communication and visibility for the association, which remains quite small and lacks financing. Through photos, videos and internet skills that I learned in France in another association, which I am a part of (called Random), I am doing everything I can to help developing the association, in the footsteps of Elsa, the former volunteer whom did a lot for the organization.

The mission is going well, I am slowly entering in the Togolese mood and I enjoy a lot discovering another culture, light-years away from my own. I am learning a lot. The thing that strikes me the most are the neighborhood’s children, radiant with joy whereas they do not possess anything and welcomed me as if I was always a part of their community. Another thing I love is the fact that nothing is given for free to the population but we provide them with keys, advice, means to get what they want by themselves. It is the principle of participative development and i enjoy it a lot. Of course there are some difficulties, some communities waiting for us to give them everything or are not really motivated and not fulfilling their obligations. But these are motivating challenges that, in the end, reinforce the pleasure to work in such a place.

Alongside my mission I really enjoy taking pictures; I also met a young and motivated Togolese dressmaker for whom I use my photographic skills. Indeed, I took pictures of him during a fashion show and some other during a shooting session with models wearing his creations. Finally I had the idea of a charity event when I come back in France in Lille.

Here’s the program:

– A parade with outfits with Western cuts that I drew , made with the African loincloth and that were created by Togolese designers including the one I mention above . The outfits will be sold at very reasonable prices. ( I have already recruited a few friends as models)
– A Togolese dish and typical drink , sold a few euros
– Djembe musicians , and a Togolese playlist that I would prepare before my return.
– An exhibition of my photos (I have not decided if i am going to sell them yet)
– A stand selling shea butter YOKOUMI fully produced and pot here in Togo, a concept launched by Elsa!

All profits will go to the Sevie Association. With our event association in France , my contacts and the communication I intend to do, I am sure this event will be a success. “


GINKGO Website: http://www.ginkgo-volunteers.org/gingko-in-english/