Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Volunteering in the village

French Village Diaries volunteering library
My French Village Library

Since arriving in France over eleven years ago my motto has been to say “oui, d’accord” (yes, OK) whenever I’ve been asked to help out. This has opened many doors of friendship, helped my French and given me a wealth of experiences I would otherwise have missed out on. Rural villages with small, often aging populations need volunteers willing to give their time and their ideas to ensure there is social centre at the heart of the village. Our village library may only be open for a few hours, a couple of times a week, but it is as much a place to gather for a chat for the older people as it is a place to pick up books.

One of the first things I became involved in was the village magazine committee and I can vividly remember sitting in the meetings and not understanding a word, let alone being able to contribute anything apart from helping with the folding, stapling and distribution. However, I stuck to it and soon found myself able to translate the monthly Mot du Maire (Mayor’s Word) into English and even suggest the odd idea or two. It wasn’t long before I was also volunteering at the village library, the treasurer on a village committee and running a Family Fun Day in the park every August. 

Ask not just what you can do for your village, but also what volunteering for your village can do for you! Volunteering has given me friends as well as neighbours, has increased my French vocabulary, given me a social life and every now and again offered me a tasty meal too.




French Village Diaries volunteering meal out mixed seafood entree
Mixed fish entrée


French Village Diaries volunteering meal out haddock main course
Haddock main course


French Village Diaries volunteering meal out chocolate dessert
Chocolate dessert


Last Saturday night the library and magazine volunteers were wined and dined at a local restaurant to thank us for another year of service to the village. We are a mixed bunch in all sorts of ways and the only thing we have in common (apart from our love of village life) is that none of us were born here. We are English, Welsh, Moroccan born French and French, originally from Brittany to Montpellier and Paris to the Pyrenees. We have different ideas, different strengths and different languages, but I can tell you there was a lot of chat and laughter around the table on Saturday night.

If you would like to help out in your town or village I would suggest making enquiries at your Mairie or speaking to someone on one of the committees who organise events. It won’t always be easy, but it will be rewarding and it will help you to find your place in your community. 


French Village Diaries volunteering
The volunteers

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Seychelles Mama