I promised these sketches, here they are ! Let's go to the Gipsies Children School (ASET)
I met again with Yves and the Albanian children of refugees living under Kirchner Bridge in Lyon. The same we met last june at Carnot square near the station. At fall, they were able to live the bridge for an algeco village, better than nothing for winter.
It really looks like a little village. As the Roma people in Vaux-en-Velin, who built a big hut as church-party-mayor place, they also have a "neighbours atmosphere" with women chatting at their doors and men smoking in the middle of the U place. Actually there's even a container for a social worker, a sort of mayor indeed.
I've come early, so do the children waiting at the village's gate, a bit anxious, looking forward to welcoming the school truck. Suddenly the little faces cheer-up just like on Christmas eve ! Yves' klaxon is ringing like a school bell. School, beginning a normal life...
Yves parks the truck in front of the gate and opens the little door of the truck. Mummies make their children climb-up in the warm classroom. I recognize some of the Kirchner bridge children. The truck classroom can welcome 10 children, there were 98 over there. Bayram is still the same, smiling and polite : under the bridge they were already so clean and well-dressed, parents make miracles.
Yves makes the children sit around the table, gives them their notebook and begins to teach. I help the youngest ones to hold their pen and realise "l" and "e" : who remembers it's been so hard to learn how to write ? Children do their best with multicolore markers. Sure to make it !
Rich moment, Yves tells me it's the first time Shykyri writes down his name by himself. We sing a bit ot "une souris verte, a green mouse" typical childhood song, and the lesson is over. Mummies' time ! Yves gives them things people let him for them : saucepans and pepper mills, clothes and tea sets, an old eggs mixer. They smile, clearly moved : they ain't have nothing.
At ASET School, we teach refugees and Gipsies children, who really look forward going to school...
Gipsies, a fantastic people I discover everyday...
A WWII camps survivor gives a lecture and tells us about the gipsies discrimination by nazis. He tells us about his childhood in a caravan with horses, acting as a clown and acrobat for his parents' circus, and helping also for the cinema show, bringing culture to little villages and countryside.
Teacher Yves was a the lecture ! ASET teachers really involve themselves in Gipsies culture : the more they get the codes, the more they reach their teaching goal.
For example someone told me once : "Gipsies parents take their children to school more than before, they care more about their children's future." I found it amusing as I thought the same before : " What ?! They don't take their children to school everyday ? Unacceptable !" Clearly, I didn't have the cultural codes. There's no future idea for gipsies, they live day by day. It doesn't mean they don't care about their children, they do, children are gipsies culture's pilar actually.
Even if you don't know, Gipsies cross usually our roads in Lyon. Sometimes during scolar holidays we can see Roma children begging in the subway. It's not free time for all ASET pupils. The little girl plays accordeon and sings typical eastern gipsies fantastic soprano songs...
At Beaurepaire festival, where I presented my work with Gipsies at mobile school, a lot of visitors shared their Gipsy experiences with me. This culture moves us more than I thought. I hope one day we ain't scared anymore, neither them nor us. I hope one day we cross the cultural borders, keeping their richness as a treasure.
Ok, the trip goes on : We're driving the school truck down to the Saintes Maries de la Mer ! I'll post here my drawings at the pilgrimage.
Speaking about Gipsies eastern singers, here's the songs of the festival visitors' daughter ! I discover them with you :
At last, little photos of the festivals !
My exhibition stand at Beaurepaire, and top right a drawing I made for my host.
Beaurepaire, a fantastic sketchbooks festival. Catherine and Maryse, volunteers, authors are warm welcomed, we feel like being at home. Guess what, I was at a married couple's place, and their son realises documentaries about trucks restaurant in Normandy : I was in chock, I grew up near one of these restaurants on the National Road n° 13 - Caen-Paris : anthropologic anthology !
At Décines, the contest "comic BDécines" gave a price to 2 groups I helped to realise their comic about travelling. A rap singer who goes around the world for Amicale de Beaujeu in Beaujolais, and a little desert fox who wants to visit the Alps with the help of Karim the gull for the school at Charpieux Décines.
Our comic with teenagers at ASET "The little Prince at Gipsies Planet" was a bit serious for a children jury, but it got success for festival visitors who could have a look at gipsies way of life through the eyes of the little Prince, full of poetry and humour.
Thanks to the organisators of these two fantastic festivals !