Pia in France

Pia spending a month this summer in Cannes, France, on a Richter Research Fellowship to investigate the relationship between the popular, wealthy city and its local, national and international charities.

UNICEF at the stadium

Today UNICEF was invited to have a stand at a local soccer tourney. They had a little table and a big box for donations that would go to children in Africa. Children (and adults) would come to drop money into the bin and get blue bracelets in return.

DSC02524.JPG.jpeg Although the donations weren’t considerable, it was nice seeing all the little kids (seven and eight years old) interested in what the UNICEF stands for: children’s rights. Letting children know about their rights is one of the purposes of the UNICEF.

DSC02515.JPG.jpeg I met with a nice lady, Madame Elisabeth Perrier. Although she is responsible for the UNICEF’s office in Avignon, she was able to tell me a little bit about the UNICEF in Cannes. They organize many fundraising events throughout the year, and they usually receive fair amounts of money because of the well-known name of their organization.

For example, a few months ago they had a national event called “La Nuit de l’Eau,” in which they partnered with the French Swimming Association (FFN) to raise money to provide clean water to children who do not have access to it. The local swim team, Cercle des Nageurs de Cannes, was able to raise the high amount of 2 344 euros.

DSC02516.JPG.jpeg In general, I had a nice afternoon talking to Mme. Perrier and learning more about the UNICEF in France. I will meet with the lady responsible for the Cannes area on Tuesday, so I’ll have more local information then!

Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on UNICEF at the stadium

Amnesty – Part Deux

This evening, my friends Cristina and Sanaz came with me to the monthly Amnesty International meeting in Cannes. It was a very enjoyable experience.

The meeting took place in a little room on the first floor of a building 20 minutes away from downtown. There were five members present: the president (M. Barre), two ladies (Gabby and Christelle), and two men (Pascal and Samuel). Two of them were elders, one was middle-aged, and two were young. It was a balanced group.

First, M. Barre gave the information he had just received from the central office in Paris. He talked about the successful liberation of prisoners in Libya, the update on the campaign “Exigeons la dignite,” the update on Hakim Ajimi’s case (a great scandal in France), etc… Then we signed some petitions.

After that, the group discussed matters more pertinent to Cannes. They talked about organizing a big fundraising concert that will take place in October, and they made plans to spread the word about Amnesty in local schools. They discussed strategies and made plans for the future.

To me, it was very exciting to learn all the things Amnesty stands for, and how the Cannes group plans to fight for them. Plus, all five members were very nice to us and treated us as part of their family.

I know the group is short on money and labor because the government doesn’t provide any type of financial support, but it seems that they have figured out how to manage that inconvenience.

Again, it was nice meeting them all and being able to attend their meeting. Hearing them talk was very motivating because they all had good ideas to be developed. I just hope they can find more followers because they need a bigger group here in this important city!

Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on Amnesty – Part Deux

The old city

The more I walk around Cannes, the more I notice the high number of old people. They are everywhere: in the streets, at the restaurants, in the shops & boutiques, even laying topless at the beach! (Don’t ask…)

I would go with the hypothesis that the younger people are at school/work and have more important things to do with their time, but I’ve already heard many times that Cannes is a city for the elders.

For example, the bus schedule starts slowing down at 8 p.m. The difficulty of traveling by bus after 8:30 p.m. is related to the slow beat of the city at night. And the taxis – they are even harder to find! It isn’t like Dallas where you can find a cab anytime at night. Here it seems like everyone goes to sleep because taxi drivers are nowhere to be found, and contacting them is a hassle.

So, Cannes is a city for the rich, retired population of France and the rest of the world.

Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on The old city

La Croix Rouge

I interviewed this afternoon Monsieur Couderc, the President of the French Red Cross office in Cannes, and guess what? His opinion wasn’t very different from what I’ve heard before.

What I found interesting about this organization was the huge variety of activities it offers to the community: free medical care to those who don’t have access to it (mainly the unemployed and immigrants), food and clothes for the needy, free lessons for those who want to learn CPR, free medical assistance in sporting and cultural events, among many other things. And the only way they keep the organization running healthy (in financial terms) is through a little government and community support. That, to me, is incredible.

Actually, M. Couberc also mentioned an annual collection of money, in which workers (a.k.a. volunteers) of the Red Cross go out to the streets with little cans. My French professor told me that this should occur in the next couple of weekends, so I hope I get to witness it!

In general, the Red Cross workers were retired people who are there to help others. See a pattern here?

Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on La Croix Rouge

Desperate for help

Benevoles pour la
prochaine campagne.


We look URGENTLY for volunteers for the next campaign. Thank you.


Restos du Coeur

Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on Desperate for help

Where are the charities?

I set out to find more interviews today.

I felt like a typical tourist with my huge map in hand; and after roaming around the streets, I finally found le boulevard de Lorraine. But, to my surprise, the organization I was looking for (J’avais faim) was only a sign on a door and an empty room! Great.

Then I decided to visit la rue de Mimosas, which is parallel to the street I was on, to look up two other charities. I didn’t have any more luck. Secours Catholique (Cannes) was closed and Peace United Actions was also nonexistent.

Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on Where are the charities?

Secours Populaire Francais

Another good interview, but still not what I thought I would hear!

I met with Elaine Fraisse, the lady in charge of Secours Populaire Francais in Cannes, a nonprofit organization that helps those in need – specially single mothers and the homeless – by mainly giving them clothes and food.

In Cannes, Secours Populaire receives financial support from the community, but not in extraordinary amounts.

When I created this project, one of my hypotheses was that charities’ revenues increased as tourists flooded the city. But Madame Fraisse told me that this is not true. For example, during the Film Festival the needy (and not-so needy) demand even more help from the organization.

So…this project (so far) is going in the opposite direction of where I thought it would go…

Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on Secours Populaire Francais

Secours Catholique

I got an interview with Secours Catholique (Cannes La Bocca) but it didn’t convince me much. I interviewed Philippe, Jean Loup and Yvette – 3 older people who refused to give their complete names and their positions within the organization.DSC02407.JPG.jpeg
Anyways, they said Secours Catholique in La Bocca receives some aid from the community, mainly from the elders, and most of their donors are motivated by the Christian belief of helping others.

But, their office is not alive, thanks to the donations they receive directly; they receive the biggest financial support from the bigger offices – like the one in downtown Cannes. They also said that Cannes is not a very benevolent city; according to them, it is just average.

As I mentioned before, I wasn’t very convinced after this interview.

Wait for the one in downtown Cannes.

Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on Secours Catholique

A note on the “Beggars in Paris”

I found this blog post today about one of the organizations I will interview in the next few days. “Restos du Coeur”.

If you have time, please check it out. It’s a really interesting piece that illustrates the situation of the hungry people in Paris.


Posted in Pia in France | Comments Off on A note on the “Beggars in Paris”

The curtain is lifted

I finally had my first official interview today! I’m ecstatic!

I was lucky to find Monsieur Barre, the man in charge of the Cannes group of Amnesty International. I first got in touch with him in February after a long chain of referrals…

Anyways, today I went to the beautiful Lycee Carnot DSC02409.JPG.jpegin a part of Cannes I hadn’t had the privilege of knowing. It was less touristy than downtown and more urban than La Bocca (I will later describe the part of town where I’m staying!).

M. Barre was at that school to recruit young students to the group; he had a table set up with lots of colorful fliers and pamphlets. When I saw him, I couldn’t believe it was him – I had imagined him completely different. I mean, we had been emailing back and forth attempting to set up meeting times, and he always had a courteous and energetic attitude, and he was obviously tech savvy. I guess I never imagined him to be around 60 years old!

Anyways, I started my interview – question sheet on my lap, voice recorder in one hand, pen in the other – was it obvious that I was an amateur at this?DSC02413.JPG.jpeg

With slurred French and a substantial amount of concentration, I managed to have a very successful interview. And I might say that I was surprised with the results. I don’t want to reveal all of my research before writing the actual report, but I must mention what impacted me the most: according to M. Barre, Cannes is not the rich city it seems; its numerous poverty problems are hidden behind a great curtain of glamour.

Definitely not what I expected. I wanted to hear that Hollywood celebrities (perhaps Brangelina), whenever they visit Cannes, donate huge amounts of money to Amnesty International’s cause. I guess that’s not the case. Actually, the Cannes group is experiencing serious financial troubles, which, to me, is a shame.

Another shame was that no one at the Lycee joined Amnesty this afternoon…

On a more positive tone, the polite M. Barre invited me to attend a group meeting on June 10.

I am looking forward to it.

Posted in Pia in France | Tagged , | Comments Off on The curtain is lifted