When you look in the eyes of a child who is searching “his” holidays to escape from the daily routine and you do not have enough money, it is tough in itself and makes you feel bad. But if everyday life is made of poverty, hardship, and concerns, not being able to give a moment of serenity to the smallest ones becomes a heavy weight on a parent’s soul.
Tens of thousands of families are in this condition, and the number – due to the recession that has struck Europe almost a decade ago – is continuing to grow. This is why there are people who have thought of a great initiative for this specific problem. Their goal: to offer holidays to children who cannot afford them. It has been realized by a French association, “Secours Populaire”, that, on the occasion of its 70 years of life, has offered a holiday to 70,000 children from 70 different countries.
A day of fun in Paris, at the Champ de Mars, with a treasure hunt in the center, a stroll among the monuments and a picnic under the Eiffel Tower as a grand finale of a week of distraction, spent in different French structures defined “friendship between villages”. Every year the association organizes initiatives and a big Parisian day for the so-called “holidays’ forgotten ones”, but for 70 years now it has wanted to open to the world, therefore it invited minors also from other European, African, and Asian countries. A slap in the face of the general indifference with which their needs are usually looked at. Among the guests there were also seven Italians, who, before arriving to Paris have spent a week in the village ‘Friends of the world’ in Haute-Savoie, in the mountains between Italy, France, and Switzerland.
Secours Populaire has an original conception of solidarity: this is a relationship among equals, in which the assisted person is invited to partake, to gain back confidence and to find his place in society. It relies very much on volunteering, because it gives and receives aid from anyone, regardless of their age, availability, location, and skills. Thus, return is made to genuine solidarity, that manifests in small things. Actions we have now forgotten, caught in the swirl of life and personal problems.
Secours Populaire is born towards the end of the 50’s, when – after the war – the idea of solidarity makes its way. In 1959, helps the victims of the Malpasset dam collapse, near Frejus, and those of the Agadir earthquake in Morocco in 1960. He is still close to the children of the strikers during the miners’ fight between 1963 and 1968. To sum up, this is a story about attention towards the smallest.
And it is them who, before leaving, take the last selfie. There is no doubt that the events lived during this month of August will be engraved in memory. And many of them, once they become adults, will give an enormous sprint to globalize solidarity. It will be always more and more needed…