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- Interview: Florestan Fillon, Monaco International Volunteer, returns from Mongolia
Interview: Florestan Fillon, Monaco International Volunteer, returns from Mongolia
A few questions for Florestan, who looks back over his volunteering stint with the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (APDC)* in Ulan Bator, a partner of Monaco’s Official Development Assistance. Over the course of a year, Florestan coordinated the setting up of a pilot centre which aims to improve the integration of disabled children and young adults in Mongolia.
How did you learn about the International Volunteers of Monaco (VIM) programme?
As I was working in the international development sector, I had been following the activities of Monaco’s Official Development Assistance with interest for some time. We stayed in contact over several years, examining opportunities for collaboration, particularly as part of the international volunteer programme.
Why did you start working with Monaco’s Official Development Assistance?
I particularly appreciate the fact that the Department of International Cooperation chooses to focus its efforts on the quality, rather than the quantity, of its interventions, and has a range of excellent local partners with long-term follow-up in place.
Was this your first experience of working overseas? What qualifications/experience did you have before you left?
No, I have been working overseas for more than 12 years. I have 12 years’ experience in the international development sector, two bachelor’s degrees in international trade and marketing, and a master’s in community-based development (from the University of Reims, then Ottawa and Victoria Universities in Canada).
Volunteering as part of the Monaco programme involves using your professional skills for the benefit of a development aid project. What was your role within the APDC in Ulan Bator?*
I was responsible for managing and developing a pilot centre for disabled children and young people. The centre offers integrated care, including educational, medical and social support. The services that have been set up are now set to be expanded to 18 branches throughout Mongolia.
What were the key moments, the encounters which will stay with you?
There are so many. If I had to choose one particular moment, it would probably be when I left, a moment of intense emotion... It was difficult to leave the APDC team, with whom I had established strong bonds over the course of the year. But I was able to see each team member improve their skills and I observed their motivation resulting from the pride of being involved in a highly promising project, which has taken root and is having a real impact on the community.
How would you sum up your year of volunteering?
Very positively in terms of the project itself, which grew considerably in just a year, despite the rather complicated starting point. Thanks to the APDC team, the project, I hope, will grow and increase the positive impact for its Mongolian beneficiaries in an area where there is so much need for it.
What are your plans now?
I have a few short and medium-term projects lined up, here in Europe, then in Japan. I will then be looking for a job in 2017.
* Find out more about the APDC via this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lB_aju1IoQ