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leave under other skies and come back different

But what is this experience that Camille talks about to her son and that she would even be ready to live once again with her family? What did she experience that changed her perception of the man inhabiting the Earth? From 2015 to 2016, Camille, fresh out of her training, accepted the position of volunteer nurse in pediatric consultation at the Davougon dispensary, near Abomey (Benin). The following year, she left for Manila (Philippines) with Jérémie, who would become her husband, as head of the health and communication mission of the Kaloob aid association (which means “gift” in Filipino).

His motivation? I wanted to use my skills in a country where access to care is still too rare. I also wanted to open up to another culture and learn from others. »

Very quickly, the paradox appears: if the difference arouses the taste of the meeting, it is the main obstacle. When I arrived, says Camille, especially in Benin, I was overwhelmed by the differences that separated us: the smells, the food of course, but more deeply the customs, the religions, the ways of living… For example, the belief in voodoo was so present that it kept me away from them, especially when it interfered with my health. » And to add, a bit thoughtfully: “At the beginning, everything separates you”, to correct then: “Fortunately, with time and acclimatization, the differences narrow. More than I had imagined. »

Change his gaze

Camille did not remain in her status as a cooperator like in an ivory tower: From day to day, I really met the “locals” in their environment and I was able to share their joys as well as their sorrows. We have forged real bonds. Of course at the beginning we were distant, especially because of me: I arrived with my convictions and beliefs and I was finally, with hindsight, not very open to difference. But learning from them, I realized that our desires and our questions were the same. »

What consequences can be drawn from this? The idea that the Earth is very small, that there is no other way than solidarity between peoples… “I changed my outlook. The Earth is not meant to be the private property of “privileged” humans, and yet it is the wealthier countries that appropriate it at the expense of the developing countries. » A situation that is all the more disturbing for Camille as climate change accentuates divorce, its consequences being harder to overcome for the less privileged, while its causes are mainly due to rich countries.

If it is ultimately difficult to change things there, Camille chooses to act at least here. “I did not come back unscathed from this experience. My priorities are no longer the same. I relativize. Those with whom I was in Abomey or Manila lived on little. So with Jérémie we try to tend towards sobriety. It’s our way of still living with them. »


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