MAG Junior 2022 - Romanian, French and Bulgarian children and young people talk about their dreams for tomorrow

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With the MAG Junior 2022, Aide et Action wishes to promote the expression of children living in precarious habitats supported by our partners in Europe: Stea in Romania, the Enchanted School in France and Médecins du Monde in Bulgaria.

In order to facilitate children's expression and ability to project themselves, we invited our partners to conduct workshops on the theme Tell us your dreams for tomorrow with the artistic accompaniment of their choice (director, photographer, writer, illustrator, graffiti artist...).

Are you a leader or teacher of 8-10 year olds? We offer you the opportunity to lead a writing workshop on the theme. Tell us about your dreams for tomorrow, just like the dreamers for tomorrow in the Mag Junior.

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Romania - Children accompanied by Stea turn their professional future into a photo novel.

Romania Mag Junior card

Since 2004, Stea has been acting in Satu Mare, Romania, for the social and educational inclusion of members of the Roma population of Sǎtmǎrel, a precarious neighbourhood of the city. Aide et Action has been accompanying Stea in its action since 2018.

For four months, the children (Sandu, Madalin, Elisei, Luca, Mihaela, Remus, Ziana, Adrian, Eva, Rihana, Erik, Adriana, Diana, Patricia, Ioan, Daniela and Fabian) participated in a weekly workshop to tell their dreams for tomorrow. The idea of staging a photo novel was quickly born. Several external contributors came to support the permanent team of Stea educators. First of all, Mirela Anghelus, a pedagogue in a kindergarten that implements the Step by Step programme, offered the children exercises to project themselves positively into the future and to build a story. The children, who also participate in workshops with Stea to present the professions, imagined themselves in their future profession. Then, while working on developing their creativity, the actor Romul Morutan accompanied them in the staging and cutting of their story.

These photos of the workshops in Romania were taken by Tibor Jäger and the illustrations were done by Sylvain Baglieri.

France - At the Plaisir de lire et d'écrire workshop at the Césaria Evora secondary school in Montreuil (93), children accompanied by the Ecole enchantiée created L'Ile de l'égalité.

France Mag Junior card

L'Ecole enchantiée is based on voluntary and professional experiences with the schooling of children living in very precarious situations (shanty towns, squats, streets, etc.). If the schooling of children is essential, without preparation or global care of the families' needs, it too often ends in failure. The association wishes to provide families with the stability of a place anchored in the city (Montreuil) to enable them, from an approach centred on the schooling of children and in particular on the accompaniment of adolescents towards a professional project, to take the time to move forward towards an exit from precariousness. L'Ecole enchantiée also provides support in the schools where the children they support are enrolled.

L'Ecole enchantiée and Aide et Action offered children previously enrolled in a UPE2A class the opportunity to participate in a Pleasure of reading and writing workshop at the Césaria Evora secondary school in Montreuil. First of all, from October 2021 to February 2022, the children's writer Isabelle Renaud lent a hand to Mrs. Anin, teacher of French as a Second Language (FSL) and to Nicolas Bonnaire, school mediator of the Ecole enchantiée, to lead the workshops. Then, the comic strip author Behemut, who is also an educational assistant at the Césaria Evora secondary school, accompanied the children in the creation of illustrations.

Interview with Behemut

Behemut

 

  • Can you briefly introduce yourself?

I am a supervisor at the Cesária Évora secondary school and a comic book author. I participated in the project with the association "L'Ecole Enchantiée".

  • How did your workshop go? How did you work with the children?

We worked in small groups with the text produced by the children and the writer. The children were introduced to drawing and learned some techniques. We used diagrams and photographs found on the internet when the pupils could not picture them. This was the case for some objects or animals.

  • What did you learn from this experience?

I found it an exciting experience. I knew most of the students, but not through an artistic activity. Some were a bit hesitant, others learned quickly and showed great drawing skills. All in all, the children really put their imagination to work and I am proud of the result. 

  • What does the artistic process bring to you in this context?

I find that it allows the construction of a universe. Whether it's through writing or drawing, these two disciplines really engage children's imagination.

Since 2004, Stea has been acting in Satu Mare, Romania, for the social and educational inclusion of members of the Roma population of Sǎtmǎrel, a precarious neighbourhood of the city. Aide et Action has been accompanying Stea in its action since 2018.

For four months, the children (Sandu, Madalin, Elisei, Luca, Mihaela, Remus, Ziana, Adrian, Eva, Rihana, Erik, Adriana, Diana, Patricia, Ioan, Daniela and Fabian) participated in a weekly workshop to tell their dreams for tomorrow. The idea of staging a photo novel was quickly born. Several external contributors came to support the permanent team of Stea educators. First of all, Mirela Anghelus, a pedagogue in a kindergarten that implements the Step by Step programme, offered the children exercises to project themselves positively into the future and to build a story. The children, who also participate in workshops with Stea to present the professions, imagined themselves in their future profession. Then, while working on developing their creativity, the actor Romul Morutan accompanied them in the staging and cutting of their story.

The island of equality

On a cold night in the autumn of 2263, fourteen-year-old Madara is awakened by a strange nightmare. With a dry throat, he gets up to drink a glass of water. But when he gets out of bed, surprise! The cold water wets his feet. He turns on his bedside lamp. A thin layer of sea water covers the floor of his room! Madara goes to wake up his father, the island's guardian, who is sleeping in the next cabin. His father's grey beard is sticking out of the sheet, and his belly is heaving with his breathing. Madara shakes him.

- Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!

- What?

- Look at this! There is water everywhere!

The caretaker dresses, and they both leave the cabin. They live in the lower part of the island, which looks like a submarine because it is underwater. They know this place perfectly well because they have lived there since their birth. And their parents lived there too. It is always lit by electric bulbs because it does not receive sunlight. The streets look like the corridors of a ship. There are container schools, airtight, and houses that look like cabins. Everywhere, water has covered the ground. The guard is distraught. The galactic island was designed to be watertight and this had never happened before. 

- We must warn Vlad, the island's leader!" the guard said to Madara.

Madara has never met Vlad, the leader of the island, but he has heard about him since he was a child. He knows that he has great powers, which have allowed him to bring order to the island. The guardian communicates with him through a computer. They both rush to the engine room where the computer is installed. 

- Do you think Vlad will be able to stop the flood, dad?

- Certainly, because he has supernatural powers. It is said that he can stop water just with his hand.

- But why has it never been seen?

- It is a tradition on this island. Since it was created two hundred years ago, the rich and the poor have never met.

Five o'clock in the morning. The day is beginning to dawn. Chief Vlad, 79 years old, white hair, gold chain around his neck, is awakened by an alarm. He checks his Rollex on his wrist, slips his hearing aid behind his ear and heads for his office. Then he turns on his computer. A message flashes on the screen. "Alert! Alert! There's a leak! Water is flooding the island!

No mistake, this message is from the island's guardian. Immediately, Chief Vlad picks up his phone and calls the five pilots of his submarine army, the Ninja Savages.

- Get your submarines! We'll have to evacuate the island.

Then Vlad sends a message to the guard via the computer:

"The evacuation must begin. I repeat: evacuation must begin. Wake up everyone in the lower part.

Down in the machine room, the guard deciphers Vlad's message. Then he wipes the sweat from his forehead. 

- I have to help Chief Vlad organise the evacuation of the island," he explains to Madara. And first, set off the alarm to wake everyone up. 

- I'm coming with you!" replied Madara. We have to understand why...

- No, go to the submarine base for cover, son. The ninja savages will be here any minute. You must have a place on board, you must be saved.

Madara knows that there is no point in arguing with his father. So he leaves the engine room. But instead of heading for the submarine base, he takes the stairs down to the very bottom of the island. "I have to find out why the island is flooded! If we don't figure it out, we'll go to another island and the same thing will happen again somewhere else! What happened?"

As Madara arrives at the last basement of the island, a sound of explosion rings out at his back. He turns around, worried, and runs towards the noise. It's coming from that cabin down the hall! Madara opens the door. Flames light up the cabin. The smell of smoke is so strong that he starts to cough. A group of about ten people jostle him to get away. They are poor people, living in the basements of the island. Madara recognizes Lucas, a twelve-year-old boy who goes to the same school as him. Madara grabs him by the sleeve.

- Why did you do this?

- We're fed up!" replies Lucas. We don't want there to be any more rich people on the island!

- Yes, but if you sabotage the island, we'll all sink! And not just the rich!

- Never mind, who cares? It's the only solution!

The flames are already beginning to devour the cabin. We must flee. Madara goes up the stairs in the middle of the panic-stricken crowd and heads for the submarine base where there is a terrible mess. Chief Vlad and his father organise the evacuation. But the gate that separates the rich from the poor is blocked, and the oxygen is running out in the containers. So they have to move quickly. The first Ninja Savages have arrived and the crowd is pressing in. 

Madara wants to talk to his father but the guard doesn't have time: 

- Get in the submarine, my son, Vlad is in charge! And Vlad is the best navigator, he will lead you safely to another island.

And so Madara finds himself in a Ninja savage driven by Chief Vlad, in the middle of a crowd of strangers. There are at least five thousand of them, packed inside. Poor and rich mixed together, seeing each other for the first time. All are shocked. The rich discover these poor people poorly dressed, with their torn trousers, their earth-coloured dresses, their sweatshirts or tee-shirts with holes in them. The poor are surprised by these rich people in dark suits, whose women wear half-length dresses and gold jewellery. Some of the rich have come with their pets, like this young man in a blue waistcoat holding a tiger on a leash. This scares the poor. A small group of rich people have sat down to lunch over a plate of beef bourguignon, while the poor are hungry. Some start to protest. The tension rises. 

In the meantime, the submarine sinks to the bottom of the ocean and fish of all colours parade in front of the portholes. But Madara doesn't have time to join in the discussions or admire the show: he is looking for Chief Vlad. He has to talk to him! Tell him what he saw! Madara goes to the cockpit, knocks on the door, but nobody answers. He knocks harder. Still nothing. So he takes off and kicks the door in. Chief Vlad is in the cockpit, busy driving the submarine.

- What are you doing here?" he shouted as he spotted Madara. It is forbidden to enter this cockpit.

- I had no choice, we are in danger, we need you!

- What is wrong with you? Why are you shaking?

- It was the poor who started the explosion! They wanted to sink the island!

- I don't believe you, it's not true!

- Yes, it is! A friend explained it all to me. The poor set fire to the island so that poverty would no longer exist.

- What misery!" sighs Chief Vlad. It's so sad!

- We all have to run away!" said Madara. We all have to agree to do something more just!

At that moment, the conversation between Chef Vlad and Madara is interrupted by a thud. Like a rumble, the sound of chairs flying. No doubt about it, a riot has broken out in the submarine. Chief Vlad rushes out of the cockpit. Using his magic power, he stops a chair in flight as it is about to hit a little boy in the crowd.

- Dear people, shouts Chief Vlad, please stop everything! Listen to me. The inequalities must stop.

Everyone stops fighting and looks at him.

- Why aren't we all equal?" shouts a woman in the crowd.

- It will change, calm down! There is a way for everyone to be happy. We're going to rebuild an island where the poor and the rich are together. Rich and poor children will go to the same schools, they won't be separated anymore.

- Will we have enough to eat?" shouts an old man. We don't want to be hungry anymore!

- On the new island, we'll all get together and grow a big vegetable garden. So no one will be hungry anymore. Everyone will get to know each other and be mixed. Everyone will have the same wealth, and even pets.

Two days later, they arrive on Extraterric, a large chain of snail-shaped islands. There are golden sandy paths, green trees and white egg-shaped houses. Chief Vlad asks the inhabitants to build a big school for all the children on top of the hill. At the bottom, the inhabitants cultivate a vegetable garden. Extraterric becomes an island where the inhabitants no longer go hungry. No one lives underwater anymore. People travel by boat. After the death of Chief Vlad, Madara becomes the leader of the island. On the day of his election the crowd gathers in front of his house and Madara speaks. 

- Dear comrades, he said. In the past the rights of the poor and the rich were not the same. But I promise you a more humane society, without inequalities. On Extraterric Island, everyone will share their wealth. We will make a society of which humanity will be proud!

Thus Madara, to great applause, became the leader of Extraterric, soon to be known throughout the world as the island of equality.

This story was written and imagined by Mures Lacatus.

These illustrations were created by children from the Césaria Evora secondary school in Montreuil, accompanied by the illustrator Behemut.

Bulgaria - The children of Nadejda accompanied by Médecins du Monde create the graffiti of hope.

Bulgaria Mag Junior card

The workshops proposed by the artists to contribute to MAG Junior are part of the "Power" project of the association Médecins du Monde Bulgaria, implemented in partnership with Aide et Action and with the support of Megahim AD and the municipality of Sliven.

In collaboration with Médecins du Monde Bulgariathe Visionary Foundation invited four renowned artists: Tochka Spot, Mouse, Kokichan and Aleksi Ivanov, to work with us to improve the urban environment of the "Nadejda" ("Hope" in French) neighbourhood in the city of Sliven. The aim of this direct intervention is to awaken the imagination, dreams and sense of creativity of the children in the district, many of whom live in great poverty.

Many families do not have access to clean water and electricity, the streets turn to mud when it rains, and in winter many people cannot heat their homes. Children do not go to school regularly and there are no playgrounds or green spaces in the neighbourhood. The neighbourhood itself is isolated from the rest of the city by a concrete wall and has only two entrances: a pedestrian subway and a street leading to a busy boulevard. This further contributes to the symbolic marginalisation of its inhabitants. This is why the project aims to give hope and improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable by transforming the environment and offering workshops for children and adolescents. In this way, through art, they can develop their vision of the world and see that a better future is possible.

Interview with Deliana Angelova, project manager, co-founder of the Visionary collective

Deliana Angelova

  • How did the workshops go? How did you work with the children?

I was impressed by the children's amazement at the videos we watched of large-scale painting - murals and street art. I hope that the change we will make with this project will show them how street art can be transformative.

  • What will you take away from this experience?

A little sadness and a lot of hope. I didn't think we would face such a challenge to unlock the imagination of some children and that made me sad. However, after the workshops, I think there is hope for developing the children's visual sense, freeing their imagination and making their dreams come true. The most powerful experience for me was the walk through the neighbourhood. It was the first time I had seen such a poor neighbourhood up close. I will certainly remember it.

  • What does the artistic process bring to you in this context?

Freedom. I think that art, placed in the social context of the neighbourhood, gives the freedom to experiment and apply a relatively flexible approach to working with children and young people. There are an infinite number of directions that can be taken depending on how they react in the process. If an idea does not work, it can be adapted or replaced immediately. An idea can also be put to the children to interpret in their own way, which makes the process even more beautiful.

In the first phase of the project (February-March 2022), we organised creative workshops in which children of different ages drew, watched animated shorts, learned different drawing techniques and shared with the artists what they like and what they dream of.

The second step is to paint the railway subway, which is a major artery of the district, connecting it to the rest of the city. At the end of May 2022, the artists, together with the residents of Nadejda, refreshed the 62-metre tunnel and transformed it into a real urban gallery of contemporary murals inspired by workshops with children. The opening of the tunnel takes place on 1er June 2022.

The project aims to change the attitudes of the residents themselves as well as the rest of the population of Sliven in order to combat stereotypes. The involvement of public authorities is therefore of great importance.

To follow the news of the workshops in Bulgaria and the festive opening of the tunnel on 1 June 2022, click here.

These photos were taken by Lina Krivoshieva and Mila Cherneva.

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