This month, Ludina Vallade, Safety Engineer (SIX, Gennevilliers, France), explains why she got involved in the 2016 laureate project « Timoun » and tells us about the mission she led in Haiti last February.
How and why did you become interested in the project Tét Kole?
LV : « Upon discovering that Thales had a foundation in 2016, I was curious to find out more about the projects, so I visited the website and became particularly interested in one of the non-profit organisations they support. The association Tét Kole takes action in Haiti, a country suffering from economic and climate related issues due to the numerous natural disasters it has been subject to. Being Martinican, I grew up on an island not far from Haiti and have many Haitian friends, so I am quite familiar with the situation. Thanks to the Foundation, I was able to find a non-profit organisationon a human scale, which carries out concrete missions in the field and works in a sector, that I have great interest in. It was exactly what I had been looking for. I decided to go for it. »
What mission did you lead for the association Tét Kole?
LV : « Last February, I took a week’s leave to travel to Haiti to carry out a mission following up the project Timoun. This project, supported by the Thales Foundation, consisted in setting up computer equipment and a digital learning platform in a school located in the slum “Bizoton 53” at Port-au-Prince in Haïti. Our first action was to train teachers and students how to use open source software like AlgoBox, Sweet Home 3D and Scratch. These free software programmes are easy to use for young students and are included in the curriculum, thus providing a digital dimension. We also set up a water treatment system for the school with help from the association, as Haiti faces an important water pollution problem.Our third and last action consisted in raising awareness and informing about environmental practices in order to explain how man pollutes water resources and what can be done to prevent this. »
Did you encounter any obstacles or experience any difficulties during this mission?
LV : « As there were two of us volunteering on this mission, we were able to share the work and complement each other. I would say that we anticipated potential obstacles that didn’t occur. We had to adapt to situations rather than overcome difficulties, which is quite normal. I probably had less difficulty to adapt due to the fact that I speak Creole, which is the main language spoken in Haiti. Thanks to my Caribbean sensitivity, I was often able to overcome obstacles by facilitating communication with the parents. »
How would you gauge the impact of this mission on the beneficiaries and the school?
LV : « We did several class interventions in front of 540 students and 31 teachers, who are now able to use the new equipment and are aware of environmental questions. The computer rooms are now frequently visited and put to good use. The children have a real ability for using computer tools, like all children around the world, and were thus quick to master them. I was pleasantly surprised, I must say! »
A word of advice for those who are still hesitant to volunteer?
LV : «If a person is hesitating, that means they are already on the path of commitment… Just take the leap! There is usually a field or subject of interest for everyone, whether you have something in common or are angered about a certain situation. You just have to gather the information that interests you and find the non-profit organisation that corresponds to your motivations.»
Visit the Foundation’s Employee Portal: http://engage.thalesgroup.com, to find out more about the projects and take action. If you are interested in a volunteer mission, you can submit your application directly on the project page.
You have already been involved in one of the Foundation’s projects and would like to share your experience? Send us your volunteer story and photos! email@example.com
Thanks for your contribution.