With Fatima, “miss good ideas” as Virginie calls her, the two young women have the same love of creating events.
Virginie and Fatima live at the Petit Noisy social housing estate.
“We love organising group outings with our kids.In Paris, it’s not always easy, especially when it finishes late.
There are a lot of single parents in the housing estate; even when you aren’t on your own, with irregular working hours every day needs to be planned. Entraide (association) came into being in an informal way, then we decided to make it bigger, closer to us, where we live.”
Méli-Mélo Family was created in 2016 with the support of another association already in operation in the neighbourhood, Entraide à Tous (Help for Everybody):
“They helped us to set up officially. Sometimes you need a little push. Our motto: ‘The kids have fun and so do the parents’. We offer outings and events for parents and children: picnics, Easter egg hunts, jardin d’acclimatation (family amusement park in Paris). We go there all together. But I’m warning you, don’t leave me your children! We’re not a child-minding centre.
I would like to restart some of the old celebrations, organise a carnival. We can always dream! My parents loved a party, there were always people at our house. When I came home there was always music. That’s probably why I feel like doing it again….”
Virginie grew up in Auvergne: “We all worked, either directly or indirectly, for (tyre producer) Michelin. When the financial crisis happened, there was unemployment, suicides, divorces…..For my father, it was a big fall. It was hard to find work for people who hadn’t studied. I remember, me and my sister did his CV …Then he found another job […]
When you’re going through a difficult time, you see who your real friends are. Ah yes. I learnt that! As a result, we are a very close group”
Currently a consultant for a social and health training centre, Virginie worked with Doctors Without Borders in Africa and Asia and lived for five years on the Ivory Coast.
“As a kid, I knew that I wanted to do humanitarian work. For example, I was very touched by the work of the “Restos du cœur“ ( association providing meals to the homeless) […]
After I came here, I thought it was going to be temporary, I wanted to go back to Africa. At first, I didn’t integrate. I did a dull job. One day we went to see a marriage guidance counsellor. She asked me: ‘What do you do to relax.?’ I didn’t even understand the question… That shocked me! Now, I think it’s too easy to say “we’re going to leave.” I can totally understand that feeling but I also think that if you get to know everybody a little bit better, it can work. And also, we live here now, so that’s it!
I think that we have this fresh desire to get together again, that’s what I feel anyway.
Two years ago, we organised a neighbours party with the associations Entraide a Tous, the Youth of Noisy-Le-Sec and Pulsations 93. That was a great success! Last year, we had a garage sale in front of the apartment building. Usually, we feel like we’re a bit forgotten, but this time we felt like the spotlight was on us […]
With more events like this, we can break down certain prejudices a bit. Of course, there still are tendencies to stay in your own community, but here, it’s also convivial. Young people take the initiative, which is great. During Ramadan, they set up a big tent; OK there was a bit of noise but we live in these buildings, you can’t expect silence. And also the young people help you carry your bags when you go past.
The parents who come for these events, which we organise with Meli Melo, are sometimes sad: they don’t have their kids, it’s not working out with their ex, they have financial problems… These festive moments make them feel better, give them a chance to talk, to see themselves differently and to forget about their troubles.
When me make people happy, we’re happy.”