[i] Hello!

[r] Hello!

[i] Do you have an object that you really care about to present to us?

[r] I don’t have any object other than this camera, this art object that my little sister brought me back from Chad. This object on which we see the map of Chad representing my country, which reminds me a little of Chad and at the same time, it is the country, so it is a little nostalgic for the country. That’s right, but I don’t have another object as such. This is the object I present you with the map of Chad, it reminds me of my country, it reminds me of all the years I spent in exile far from home.

[i] Okay, can you introduce yourself to us a little bit?

My name is[name of the interviewee] , I have been here for some time now. That’s it, I work in a middle school and a high school right now, in Paris.

[i] Okay. Which country do you come from?

[r] I am from Chad. My parents are from Moïssala, in the Middle Shari region of southern Chad.

[i] Were you born there?

I was born in N’Djaména, the capital, and finally, I was born in Fort-Lamy, which has become N’Djaména today. So I am a Lamy-Fortain and not a Ndjamenois. But well, today those who were born after that, maybe they don’t know this story anymore, but I’m a Lamy-Fortain.

[i] Can you tell us a little bit about Fort Lamy’s story, in a rather brief way?

Fort-Lamy is actually, in memory of Commander Lamy who led the operations to conquer this region of the country which, at the time, was under the control of Rabah who was, I don’t know if we should call him a resistance fighter or a slave driver but it’s actually both. Lamy led the troops who fought and shot down Rabah in Kousséri, which is a Cameroonian city on the border with N’Djaména, the capital of Chad. So the name Fort-Lamy is given in memory of this Commander Lamy.

[i] Is he a French commander?

Yes, he’s a French commander! He’s a French commander, that’s it!

[i] Can you tell me when you were born?

[r] I was born in 1965 in Fort Lamy. Fort-Lamy’s maternity ward at the time was run by French midwives and doctors. Today, maternity is now totally under the direction of the nationals.

[i] Okay. And under what circumstances were you born?

[r] Circumstances, I’m not able to remember the circumstances. I know my mother told me that I was born in the early morning, I was born at 2:00 in the morning. That’s all I know, but apart from that, I don’t have any other anecdotes, not anything particular that marks my birth.

[i] Are you the eldest in the family?

[r] No, I am my father’s and mother’s third child but my mother’s first boy. Before me, my mother had two daughters: Deborah who is now deceased and Rebecca who is currently a refugee in Burkina Faso. After me, there’s my little sister Tabitha. So my mother had four children, three girls and a boy. I’m my mother’s only boy, that’s all.

[i] Did you live in Chad for a while?

[r] I lived until I was thirty in Chad before coming to France.

[i] Okay, can you tell us a little bit about these moments?

[r] These were moments that are still etched in my mind because they were good times for me. I was with my father, my mother, my sisters, then after that when my father took another wife and had other children so I have brothers and sisters. I knew my parents’ native country, the far south of Chad, so I know Moïssala, Doubadené, Sateignan, Dilingala very well. I know all these regions and all these corners. So I know a little bit about Chad.

[i] Your father and mother are from the same region, same village?

Yes, my father and mother are both from Moïssala, both of them Mbayes. Les Mbayes is the community to which my parents belong. This Mbaye community belongs to the large Sara community, which constitutes more than 40% of the Chadian population. Demographically, the Saras are in the majority in Chad before the Arabs.

[i] What region of Chad are they in?

[r] This is southern Chad. The Saras start from the Tandjilé, heading south to Chad. So there is the Middle Shari region, the Eastern Logon region and the Western Logon region, then part of the Tandjilé. All these regions I have just mentioned are populated by the Saras, so the Mbayes are part of this Sara people, that’s it.

[i] Okay. You studied in Chad.

[r] I studied in Chad until I graduated from high school, then I studied law in Niger, and in France I trained as a specialized educator.

[i] How was life in Chad in general?

[r] Life before events for us who were born in the 60s and 70s, life was beautiful for us, we were carefree. Life was good until the tragic events of 1979 broke out. After these events, life became very difficult for those of our parents who were civil servants, who depended on the public service. The public service did not pay, so life had become very hard. We barely had one meal a day… We barely had a meal a day, that’s it, we were satisfied, we went to school, we came back. If you eat at noon, you can’t eat in the evening, if you don’t eat at noon, you eat in the evening. Now we don’t have one meal a day.

[i] Okay. Okay! Okay! Do you still have family in Chad?

[r] Yes, I have my mother who is still alive. My father died but my mother is still alive. I have my sisters, I have my little sister Tabitha who is in N’Djaména right now just like my mother, I have my little brothers who are also in N’Djaména, I have my big sister who is in Burkina Faso. I have a son too who is in N’Djamena.

[i] Can you tell me a little bit about your sisters, your family in a way… what was the mother, the father doing?

[r] My mother is a catchy nurse, the one we used to call the matron midwives. My mother started working in the 1960s. She worked until 2001, I think, and then she retired. My father was a driver. He’s a truck driver. He started by working first at the town hall, at the Fort-Lamy road system, then he worked at NSKN, it is a regional company… I would say regional, because NSKN at the time, we found this company in Chad, in the Central African Republic and I think in West African countries too. My father was a driver there, then my father worked for the WFP before he retired.

[i] What is WFP?

[r] The World Food Programme.

[i] And your two sisters?

[r] My two sisters: my older sister Rebecca is a refugee in Burkina Faso after the events of February 2008 in N’Djaména. My little sister Tabitha is married. She was an executive secretary for a few years and then lost the job. Now she is looking for a new job that she doesn’t have yet, but otherwise she is married. There, she’s with her husband.

[i] So, what can you tell me when you arrived in France?

[r] I arrived in France…….. For the first time, I arrived in France in 1998 to follow the World Cup, then after two months in France I went back to N’Djaména. I continued on to the Central African Republic to look for an inscription. I did six months in Bangui, in Central Africa. I didn’t get an entry I was looking for and I came back to N’Djaména, I took two months and then I came back to France in 99. Since then, I’ve been here, I’m here, I haven’t moved at all. From time to time, I go on holiday to N’Djamena when possible.

[i] Under what circumstances then will you arrive?

[r] I was invited by a friend who would later become my wife. So the first time, it was this friend who invited me, then came back in’99, we’re getting married. Unfortunately my story, my home didn’t take long. A year later, we split up and since then I’ve been here, since I work in the Paris region, I’m here.

[i] How long have you been in France or the Ile-de-France region?

Since I arrived in France in 1999, I have only lived in the Ile-de-France region. I lived in Bagneux in the 92, then I lived in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, then the 20th arrondissement. In the 12th I did a year, in the 20th arrondissement at the Porte des Lilas, I did two and a half years, I think. Yes, two and a half years in the 20th arrondissement at the Porte des Lilas, then I did two and a half years in Colombes in the 92 again, then I returned to Paris in the 14th where I did almost ten years, on the Didot side, not far from Montparnasse. I spent a long time there and now I live in Montmagny in the 95. This is my journey in the Paris region.

[i] Can you tell me a little bit about your stay in France?

[r] My stay in France in general, what are we doing? We work, we go out in the morning, we go to work, we come back in the evening. For us who are single, you go to work, you come back, you are home, you only have TV for your only companion. That’s it, from time to time when we have to meet in the Chadian community, that’s it, we meet again. From time to time, parents and other compatriots meet either here at home or elsewhere for our political and other exchanges. This is life in the Paris region.

[i] What are your expectations when you come to France?

[r] The expectations when I came to France, I don’t really know if I had any particular expectations but it was to build a life, to start a family. And then, well, here we are, working until one day I decide to return, but I didn’t have any particular projects, I didn’t have any particular expectations, otherwise it’s to start a home, start a family, take care of my family until the time of return… I can return. Unfortunately, things are not going as well as I had hoped, that’s all. I’m here for the moment.

[i] In what environment do you live now?

[r] The environment is none other than the environment in which practically everyone lives. I live, I’m a tenant. That’s it, I pay my rent per month whether it’s in Paris, Colombes, now in Montmagny, I’m still a tenant. Often where I live, I am always quite far from other Chadian compatriots. So to see each other, you have to program things, which is not the case when you were in Chad. You want to go see a relative or a friend, you get up, you go. You come home, if he’s there, that’s good, you chat, you share everything that’s to be shared, and you go home. If he’s not there, well you come back and then next time when you get together, you tell him, but I stopped by the house last time but you weren’t there so I had to turn back. Everything is organized here, you have to call a week in advance to say, this weekend can we meet? What’s your program? What time can we do it? That’s it, everything is organized, which is not the case with us. This is not our way of life, this way of living.

[i] Did you study in France? A training?

[r] Yes, I studied in France. I trained as a specialized educator at the Catholic University of Paris. The Institut catholique de Paris is in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. I studied for three years as a special educator at this university.

[i] Can you tell me about these studies? What does it consist of?

[r] Well, it’s a specialized educator training that opens up a work in the social field. The function of a specialised educator leads to working either with the social sector, those in precarious situations, or working with the disabled. The training we receive allows us to work, to set up projects to support the socially unemployed. We support them for a well-defined, individualized project. In other words, we set up with them the project that is important to them. For some, it may be a housing search, for others it may be a job search. For others, for refugees, it will mean accompanying them in their efforts to obtain the necessary documents to live and reside in France legally. That’s the social side! For others, it will be to support them, to lead them in the management of their financial resources because there are families who tend to spend without taking into account what they have in terms of resources. In the case of support, we make the budget, we set up the monthly budget with them and we support them in this sense. So that’s the social side. The side of disability is that disabled people, when it comes to motor disabled people, i.e. those with mobility problems, we set up functional rehabilitation to help them for those who can still regain mobility, to regain this mobility so that they can use their limbs that had deficiencies. For those who do not hope, it is to accompany them despite their disability to be able to live as it should be without being too handicapped by this disability. So we support them, we set up is a project that allows them to overcome their disability despite this. So what can it be? It can be either use prostheses, or use crutches, or use wheelchairs. So all these are programs that we set up with them and support them in this direction. They can be intellectually disabled, the intellectual disability, which can be a severe, medium or mild intellectual disability and in this sense, it is to set up with them a project that allows them to overcome their disability and to be able to live in society without being excluded. So we create an environment, we create the conditions for people to thrive despite the disability they live with. So that’s what specialized educators do, and it requires three years of training after graduation. There are schools and universities that train for this profession. So here’s the training I did, being in France.

[i] Have you worked or are you working now?

[r] Yes, I worked as a special education teacher until 2016. Since November 2016, I have been accompanying children in difficulty in middle and high schools. So I do what is called educational support. I provide academic support, I provide reframing support for children who are not able to stay focused in class. I accompany them in class so we are actually two adults who work for one student or for several students in a classroom. So we intervene when they are in difficulty for a particular subject or exercise. Instead of one teacher taking care of all the students, and at the same time taking care of one or more other students who have much more difficulties than others who have difficulty grasping because they do not have the same pace of understanding as others. We who intervene take care of them to give the head teacher time to take care of those who have the ability to progress at a normal pace. So we take the others with a little longer time, a little more detailed explanations, and special support compared to the other students in the class. So here’s what we do. Others need to be accompanied by an adult who helps them to concentrate, so that’s all I’ve been doing right now for two years now, in a middle school and a high school.

[i] You work in different institutions?

[r] I worked in two high schools and a middle school. I worked in a high school, it’s called Guimard high school in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, in another high school but they are vocational high schools, in another Edmond Rostand high school in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. I work in a middle school with the students. For two years I accompanied a student from grade 5 to grade 4 and this year I am accompanying a student from grade 6 who has just entered college. Otherwise, in high school, it is students who are destined for vocational training, so I support them in this sense because, among these students in these high schools, many come from… They are newcomers, students who have come from elsewhere, from Africa, Asia and who have not had the training, let us say the normal curriculum of a student who has studied at primary, middle and high school and who has difficulties. So these students need a little more time to understand the exercises they are given. And we are here to support them, to help them to be able to process the exercises, to explain them better because the head teacher who is there does not have the time necessary to be able to follow all those students who have difficulty understanding the exercises in record time. So we are here to explain exercises with a lot of slowness, with a lot of details to our students so that they can grasp and solve the problems that are submitted to them. So here’s a little bit.

[i] Have you encountered any difficulties during your various work activities?

[r] Of course it is! The difficulties I encounter are much more with middle school students, they are natives of France. They do not have the same conception of things as children from Africa or Asia. Children who were born in Africa, children who were born in Asia and who come to France, they have projects, they have objectives. They know what they want, they want to succeed in their lives. For them, it is important that they invest in their education, have diplomas and training, have training diplomas that allow them to enter the labour market. They are aware of what they want. They know what they want, and they are aware that the environment we create for them is not necessarily in their country. This is not the case for children born in France, who for them, despite all the measures we are putting in place to facilitate their success, are not aware, because being born in a country where they have everything, they think that it may be like that everywhere else in the world, and they are not aware that students in other countries do not have one-tenth of what is made available to them for their success. So these students are harder to supervise because sometimes they tease you, sometimes they confront you outright, sometimes they disrespect you. They are not aware that you are helping them for their own good, for their own success. They think you’re here to annoy them, you’re here to prevent them from thriving. For that, they make you miserable. They do not follow the instructions given by the teacher. When you try to take time with them to explain the lessons, the exercises to detail so that these students can progress at the same pace as the others, it doesn’t mean anything to them. For them, it’s not important and even when you call them up and tell them it’s for your future, he says, “I don’t care”. You think you, with….. with this behavior, do you think you can get diplomas to be able to work? “I don’t care, even if I don’t have a degree, I’ll know what I’m going to do.” But hey, these are children who, despite what they say, don’t know what they’re going to do. But they are not conscious because they think life is easy. It is unfortunate because these children, if we do not make an effort, are children who may one day find themselves delinquent, robbing, shoplifting. That is all that must be avoided, and that is why the government has put in place a support system to ensure that these students, that we do what we need to do to ensure that they do not end up becoming offenders and attacking people. These are some of the difficulties I am facing.

[i] Can you tell me where these students come from? Do you have any ideas?

[r] Well, yes, yes, yes, yes! In fact, as I was saying earlier, in vocational high schools there are very few… the students we work with, there are very few natives of France, even if there are still some, they are very few. Most of them are young people from Africa and Asia. They are not a problem because they know why they are here. They know why they left their country to come to France, and they have objectives to achieve. It is about training to become a diplomat, going out with their diploma, finding a job, working to thrive and being able to help their parents who have stayed in the country. So with these students, we don’t have a problem as such. The people who most often cause me problems are those who are native to France, that is, they are French, even if some of them are of African or Asian origin, they are French, they were born in France, they are of French nationality. These children, they don’t… they don’t know what devices they have. For the children, whom I would say… I would call them French people with quotation marks, who are in this system, it’s a little complicated. It’s for reasons that maybe, are to be looked for in the family environment or maybe elsewhere, I don’t know where it is… We have to look for the problem in the medical field, pyschological, we don’t know. These are children who do not make the task easy in the accompaniment. These are children who are French by birth but who have particular difficulties. Either French children but of African or Asian or South American origin, they have difficulties of several kinds, it can be a psychological problem, it can be a family problem and that means that they are behind the other students and need support, a special accompaniment with one or more adults who are with them and who accompany them a little more regularly. While a student is given a math exercise, he does not need someone next to him, he makes and presents the answer to the teachers. The others need an adult next to them who, after the teacher’s explanation, is explained a second, third, fourth time and if necessary do these exercises with them to make them succeed. It’s with these students that we have a little difficulty, but well… we still do our best to ensure that they can succeed and move on to the next grade.

[i] Are there many of them?

[r] They are not always numerous. In a class, you can find yourself with this kind of student, you can find maybe two, three, four maximum in a class because if there are too many of them in a class, it actually becomes unmanageable, so their number is limited because already, in addition to the teacher who comes to teach his subject, you need an adult who accompanies them in these subjects in a somewhat sustained way. So there are not many of them, but they need to be there, so that they are not excluded from the education system, so that they are not marginalized. They are obliged to have this support, the schools in which we are very well, are most often located in the priority education zones, the ZEPs, that’s it.

[i] Apart from these students, do you have any particular difficulties with the administration?

[r] No, no, no, no! The environment is very good, we get along well.

[i] Or colleagues?

[r] We get along well with our colleagues. There, everything is going well, everything is going well.

[i] Okay. So can you tell me if the work you do is related to the training you received?

[r] The social accompaniment of these students I accompany is the training of specialized educators that I have done, because in our training as specialized educators, we also provide academic support. So I, who had a literary background, work with students in subjects such as French history and geography. When it comes to uncomplicated scientific subjects such as biology and geology, I can still intervene, but I cannot intervene in maths at a very high level. With the students in the sixth and fifth grades, I can still help them in math. But from the fourth grade onwards, it starts to be difficult even if I can still understand sometimes and explain it to them, but it starts to be a little difficult but the students from the second cycle to high school, that I do not allow myself to accompany them in maths, because here I am already losing myself. I can’t do that. So for subjects such as math, physical sciences, when a student is in difficulty, I ask the teacher who dispenses the subject so as not to mislead the student, so I ask the teacher in charge of the course to provide the necessary clarification to the students in difficulty. On the other hand, for subjects such as French, geography history, which are my fields of training, well, I don’t need to ask the professors in charge of the course. And besides, often colleagues, they ask me so that I can support them too because they are overwhelmed, so when there are several students asking questions at the same time and they refer a few to me. “Listen, ask Luc because Luc can help you in such and such a subject and say Luc, can you…? “That’s it, so when it’s in French or in geographical history, I intervene and the more I clarify things for them, I answer their questions, I tell them what to do about these subjects. In natural sciences, or what we call SVT here, I work under the supervision of the professor in charge of the course, the subject. So here’s a little bit of how things work.

[i] Do you also meet the parents of students?

[r] The students for whom I am assigned, the students I am, the students I accompany in their school curriculum, I meet the parents. Parents must know who is accompanying their children, so I meet their parents. I don’t meet the parents of other students who don’t need support, who don’t need support. I don’t have to deal with these people, I don’t have any relationships with them.

[i] What do you tell yourself during these meetings?

[r] It’s a bit like talking about the evolution of their children. Are things progressing well? Do their children follow the instructions? Is it progressing? Is there something wrong? So we solicit them and they solicit us. When, in the morning when we arrive at school, when the child opens his notebook and the previous day’s homework has not been done, we try to understand why he did not do it. When the notebooks are not well kept, the student is asked the question, “Do your parents read your classes?” If so, we try to work with parents to find out why textbooks are not well kept, there are a lot of erasures in the notebook, the notebooks are torn, do you know that? Have you seen your son’s or daughter’s notebook? Because a parent who follows his child’s schooling, immediately will be questioned because his child has a lot of erasures in his notebook, and he will make remarks to his child, will try to ask his child to make a little more effort by keeping his textbooks well, by making an effort. The parent will try to find out if his child has done the exercises, the homework that has been given to him. So for these things, when it’s not done, we call the parents. And they also come to us to see if… is the child progressing well, because they want to be reassured on their side too, to know if their child has a chance to progress and achieve results. So here we are, supporting each other, the parents and us.

[i] Relationships are always very good with parents, without difficulties? Is there a mutual understanding?

[r] There are some parents who… who set up fairly easy collaborations, other parents who are in the demand as soon as they arrive, why didn’t my child learn this lesson? Why did my child get this grade? While my child deserves better and we try to talk to them, we try to ask them if they are really aware of their children’s level. Have they talked with their child, and we try to make them aware of their child’s disability. So sometimes it goes well with the parents, sometimes it’s not easy, but hey, we try to find common ground for the good of the child.

[i] Tell me, outside your workplace, what is your daily routine? Can you talk to us outside of work?

[r] Well, my daily life is not much as I said, it’s Paris! It’s subway, work, sleep, what! I go out in the morning, you have to run to catch your train and get to work on time. We finished the work, we come home, we have dinner and then we have to rest to get up the next day, fresh to go back to work again, and so on. There come weekends when I can go out to meet parents, compatriots and friends, here in the Paris region, but there is nothing special about it. Not much else to say, what, about that.

[i] Do you have any family in France?

[r] I have cousins, I have friends. I have acquaintances. So here are the cousins, the cousins I have, here are the cousins. I have uncles too.

[i] What are your hobbies, activities? Are you a member of an organization?

[r] I don’t have a lot of hobbies. I’ve been practicing sports for some time now, as I did a while ago, so that’s it. I am a member of an association of which I was one of the founding members. It is an association for the promotion of Mbaye culture, which is the culture of the people to whom I belong. That’s it, for a while I was on the board of directors, I’m no longer on the board. That’s it, otherwise I’m interested in what’s going on in Chad, what’s happening politically, what’s happening socially in Chad, I’m interested in it a little bit.

[i] Cultural activities, going to the cinema, the theatre?

[r] Cultural activities must be said that…

[i] In the cinema, in the theatre?

[r] In the cinema, in the theatre, I don’t remember going to the theatre on my own since I’ve been in France. I accompanied the children when I was working as a specialized educator in the homes, I accompanied children to the theatre, I accompanied children bowling, playing sports. Now we’re going on outings with teenagers. In the cinema, I sometimes go to the cinema with compatriots. I have never been to the cinema alone because for me cinema is something to share. So, me watching the cinema alone, silent, and then going home, I have trouble conceiving the thing. So when I have a friend or a compatriot or a relative who comes to see me or asks me, “Look, there’s a movie, we can go see it.” That, I’m going to go. So here’s a little bit. My hobby is much more cinema, if I have a company, we go there, but alone I don’t go there. And then, other hobbies… from time to time, maybe I can go out for a walk in the gardens. I rarely visit Parisian monuments, but that’s not what’s missing. Paris is full of monuments but rarely. Moreover, if I know the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and others, it is because compatriots passing through Paris for the United States or returning from the United States for Chad stop and ask me, “Luc, I want to discover Paris.” So right now, I’m going out and we’re going out with them and I’m accompanying them to discover the Parisian sites. And that’s how I discovered Parisian sites and other monuments myself, because I never take the initiative to go and discover Paris like that myself, it happens very rarely. These are the parents, the compatriots, the friends who want to recognize Paris, and as I know Paris, I know where you can visit these monuments, as soon as you tell me that… I guide them, I accompany them and then like that, I enjoy it too and then there it is.

[i] What do these monuments that you visit represent to you? Do you have any idea? Eiffel Tower? Arc de triomphe?

[r] Eiffel Tower for us francophones, coming from a country that was a former French colony, that was a French-speaking country, the Eiffel Tower is something. Everyone knows the Eiffel Tower. So well, in our countries, if you tell someone that you came to Paris and you haven’t seen the Eiffel Tower, it’s because you’ve never been to France, you’ve never seen France. To prove that you have seen France, you must see the Eiffel Tower. You have to show an image, one of your images next to the Eiffel Tower, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, but you can’t say that I came to France, finally I came to Paris and I didn’t see the Eiffel Tower. This can’t be happening! It’s inconceivable! So well, it’s still a monument that has a history, that has a reputation. So the Eiffel Tower is for all Francophones and besides there are not only Francophones, today when you go to the Eiffel Tower, you see American, Japanese and Chinese tourists, and even the countries next door, England, the Germans, the tourists… The Eiffel Tower is something everywhere in the world. Well, the Eiffel Tower is a monument that has a reputation, that is well established, so that’s it. The Louvre is… the largest museum in the world, it is said. So the Louvre also has its reputation. The Arc de Triomphe is the place… The Arc de Triomphe, Bastille, the Republic, these are famous places in Paris. The demonstrations, the people are there. Trocadero also, the demonstrations most often, either the meeting begins or ends at the Bastille, the Republic or the Trocadero. So these are such famous monuments, famous monuments, so that’s it. I don’t visit Sacred Heart much, Notre Dame. Since I arrived in Paris in 1998, when I first arrived, I have visited the Sainte-Chapelle, but since then I have not gone back to the Sainte-Chapelle. I went, I had brought actions against my former employer when I was dismissed from the labour tribunal and I had a lawsuit, there was an appeal, so then we went to the Paris Tribunal, so the Sainte-Chapelle being next to the Tribunal, I went there but I only visited the Sainte-Chapelle once. Notre-Dame de Paris, I don’t think I’ve ever visited Notre-Dame de Paris like that. I go behind, in front, I stop at Place Notre-Dame, but I don’t think I have visited as such Notre-Dame. So much for the monuments. Another famous monument in Paris that I like or when friends are passing through and ask me to accompany them to see Paris, I also take them there. It’s the Great Defense Arch, in 92. There, when you are in the Place de la Défense, you are under the Great Ark of Defense, you see the Arc de Triompe in front of you, it’s magnificent. So here are the monuments and other historical sites, famous tourist sites of Paris or from time to time when I accompany people, we do tours there, that’s it.

[i] Have you ever been to concerts, other cultural activities?

[r] Concerts is always as an educator, accompanying children and young people. We accompany them to the concert because they themselves solicit because, a musician for whom they have admiration performs and when they have a good behaviour or bring back good results to the foyer, as a reward, to encourage them, we offer them concert tickets, so we accompany them. But, myself as such, I’ve never been to a concert like that.

[i] In your community or other cultural activities?

[r] In my community, at the time with some of my little brothers, when we had the time, our first years in Paris, we loved the music festival. We would go around Paris until 4 in the morning. We’d share pots, go crazy and then go home, but since then I don’t know what happened, but we scattered like that. At the time, these meetings were more regular, it was more regular… We used to see each other regularly when there was a music festival, we would meet each other, we would go crazy. Either at the beginning of summer, we meet again, we have picnics, we meet again, we talk about everything and nothing. We share moments together and then I don’t know what happened, but that group, we scattered like that, and now there’s only the phone to check in on each other. It’s a pity I would have liked to have seen this taken up again, but I don’t know if it’s possible to rebuild this again, because at the time when we had just arrived, it was our first years in Paris. We brought home our spirit of… because at the time when we were in N’Djamena, at my little Augustine’s, we would meet in the evening and debate, we would remake the world. We were remaking the world, so that’s it, we had revolutionary ideas, we put on the table all the political subjects, historical debate, the economy, sport. We discussed all the subjects, we took a lot of time and sometimes, the people who passed by in the street, perhaps thought we were crazy. But we were remaking the world then, we were young so we were remaking the world. We split up one by one, but we all ended up in France quickly. So, I think that this spirit that we had at the time in N’Djaména followed us, so we reproduced what we were doing in N’Djaména. So, here we were, regularly having picnics, going out for the music festival. In the summer, we used to walk around, all that stuff… we liked to meet again and continue our political debates, our intellectual debates, we liked it but then… for almost now… practically now maybe… maybe ten or fifteen years that we have dispersed like that. No reason, but here we are, we don’t see each other anymore, otherwise we call each other to say hello, thing. Others have left. A copatriot Daniel Bekoutou who was part of the group has now left for Canada. So, here’s a little bit of my exits. So now I’ve become a lot more homey.

[i] Okay. Can you tell me about your relationship with your different cities, where you’ve been? Are you involved in any way in the city, in the cities, in the community in France?

[i] I have very little involvement in cities. Most often my involvement in the communes is always related to my work as a specialized educator. I am less involved in the life of the municipalities where I have lived because I am good, but I find that my role as a specialized educator already allows me to invest myself sufficiently in the city. So after that when I arrive, maybe unconsciously I think I’ve given enough. So I take the time to rest, to do something else, so that’s a little bit. I am less involved in the social and cultural life of the municipalities where I lived.

[i] Can you tell me if there are any major moments, any key events that marked you when you arrived in France. If so, which ones?

[r] The key moments, listen, I would say that the key moments may be the 98 World Cup, Euro 2000. We were great supporters of the French team, so these were moments that marked us. For some time now, it has been much more the situation in my country that is not what I hope is of concern to me. So, the situation in my country and in the Central African Republic, which is my neighbour country, which is much more important to me, so that’s it.

[i] Can you tell me what your perception of the city of Paris is?

[r] Paris is beautiful! Paris is a city of culture, it is said to be the city of lights. So well, Paris is beautiful, but you don’t have to be alone in Paris. If you’re alone in Paris, loneliness will kill you in Paris. Especially for us who come from elsewhere and who grew up in an environment that provides relationships. You are surrounded by cousins, uncles, aunts, friends. You don’t need to make a program to visit a cousin, a relative, a friend. We improvise everything, but it’s the right life. You live but really light-hearted, with a really light and free mind. It’s often improvised moments, but it’s very intense. These things, we don’t necessarily have them, at least for me, maybe others know and have known and managed to create these things again, to recreate these things again here. But I, for some time now, have been living in a rather withdrawn state. I am in such loneliness, and as I said earlier in the introduction, today, apart from a few visits from parents and friends, my only company is television. Metro, work, sleep, I go out, I’m at school or I’m actually at work, I come back, I have TV, I have a few moments to read, that’s it. So Paris, if you live with a woman, with your children or if you live with a relative or a friend with whom you are constantly together, it brings you out of loneliness, but my case is that I am in such loneliness that here I am, I really want to leave Paris, to go back to Africa to find those moments of conviviality, of sharing, elsewhere, in Africa.

[i] Is it nostalgia?

[r] A lot of nostalgia, a lot of nostalgia, a lot of… I have many moments of escape or being physically, materially here in France, I find myself reliving moments that I spent either in Chad, or for the few holidays that I spent either in Cameroon, or Congo Brazaville, or in the Central African Republic, or in Niger where I studied, I relive those moments that remain very important to me. So that’s it! It’s a little complicated, Paris. An immigrant in Paris is difficult. It’s not a life when you’re alone, but maybe I’m the one who couldn’t create an environment, a framework in which to be with a lot of people, something. Maybe it’s a personal case. This is not the case for all other immigrants, other Chadians in France, but this is my case.

[i] In general, can you tell me how you see social issues in France?

[r] Social issues in France, it must be said that it is a rich country, that’s for sure, but there is a lot of misery. For me, who has received a social education, who works in the social field, who works with people in difficulty, there is a lot of misery in France, in Paris. And it’s paradoxical, you’re surrounded by wealth but insolent, and then next to it, right next to it, there’s a misery not possible. You say to yourself, but how? I worked as a… I first did an internship at the Nanterre hospital… I forget the name. My training in second year, I did an internship and then I worked. There is the Nanterre hospital which already receives, but… it is the first time that I have really experienced poverty, it is in this hospital centre in Nanterre. Cash Nanterre is called Cash Nanterre, Cash: Centre d’accueil des soins hospitaliers. Cash is what it means. At Cash Nanterre, I lived in poverty as if I were in Africa because Cash welcomes refugees who are at CADA and the homeless, the homeless who… who have accommodation for some time also at Cash and some of these homeless people are also treated because there is a centre for addictology of alcohol levels at Cash Nanterre. That’s where I experienced a misery but not possible, which is still surprising for a country as industrialized or as rich as France. So, there are some who are getting by and there is a lot of help, a lot of help. Some people, because they do not know that these aids exist, miss out. There are some who voluntarily refuse this aid. There are some who also fight to get these aids but do not necessarily have them because they have not received real support, the people who refer them, who really direct them to the right structures to be able to benefit from these aids and who find themselves on the margins of society and especially on the margins of the wealth in which the French live. So that depends on whether you know how it works, if you know the structures to turn to, you can get by with the help even if you don’t have many resources. But if you don’t know or if you are not well oriented, you can be next to the people who live in opulence, but live a misery but the most black, the most total. So it depends, the social aspect in Paris.

[i] What about health issues?

[r] It must be said that the health insurance system in France is one of the most effective in the world. Health coverage in France is excellent, but to benefit from this health coverage, you must be regular in France. If you are not regular in France and you are undocumented, it is complicated to get treatment in France because health is very, very expensive in France. Those who manage to justify three months’ presence on French territory, manage to set up a file to obtain state medical assistance and manage to get treatment. Many undocumented migrants, homeless, live in such precariousness, in such idleness that their health leaves much to be desired.

[i] Another question was about your status. What is the status you have in France right now?

[r] I am simply, I have always been, I am a resident. I’m a resident, I have the ten-year card. It is true that I am opposed to the Chadian regime but, since I arrived in France, I married right away. I immediately had the ten-year card, I have already renewed it, and soon I will renew my ten-year card again for a third time. So I am a resident, I am a resident, I am not a refugee. Good because as a resident or refugee, we have the same cards, so I don’t know what one or the other has more than the other, so I didn’t see the need to change status. So my status is simply a Chadian resident in France.

[i] Do you intend to apply for French nationality?

[r] I’ve already asked for it except that I’ve been waiting four years, I don’t think I would have it so I think…

[i] Is there a reason? Or reasons?

Well, I think it’s due to my political commitment. I think that’s right, because when you apply for naturalization, you are received at the Paris police headquarters, you provide the documents that are requested. We study your file, we investigate you and then after six months, you get an answer. It’s been four years since I filed my application. I was received at the Paris Police Headquarters, after which the intelligence services received me too. And when I was received by the DCRI, I was made to understand that… oh no, they’re there to protect me, thing… They will also speed up my application so that I can quickly obtain my naturalization because I have also submitted the file on my son, who is still a minor, and I intend to bring him here, but it is rather the opposite of what was told to me that happened, because I have been trying to find out what is happening for four years now. I send emails, I don’t have any answers. I call, I have no one, no one on the phone and I don’t know if my file still exists somewhere. So, well, I made this request, it was much more to bring my child to France to be able to benefit from the whole French structure to be able to follow a good school curriculum in France. But, I think I’ll end up bringing him in differently. Perhaps simply reuniting families without seeking naturalization. I, the French nationality, would not have advanced me, it would not have given me much except that you are a citizen of a country, you can go 20 years, 30 years and you come back, you are still a citizen of that country. It will save me the trouble of trying to provide documents to renew my residency title. But well, apart from that, I don’t know what French nationality would have given me more than my residence permit because it’s true, I can’t work in the French civil service, that’s for sure. A French nationality would perhaps have allowed me to travel freely to countries where the French do not need a visa to go there such as the United States, Canada, some other countries. Maybe that’s the ease of travel. But apart from that, if I apply for a position, whether I am French or a resident as long as I am legal, I apply like any other French person and then, if my profile is good, they take me, if my profile is not good, I am not taken, they take someone else. Well, there you go!

[i] Have you applied for asylum in relation to your commitments?

[r] No, I have not applied for asylum and I will not apply for it.

[i] Are you still in contact with your country of origin?

[r] Yes, yes, since my mother, my sisters, my brothers are still there, so I have relations with this country. I fight to make things change, so I can go home too… because… I have to go back to Chad one of these days and settle back there. I don’t want to, I don’t intend to retire in France. I’ll be back in soon.

[i] Is that part of your intentions?

[r] Yes, it’s really something I care about, day and night. Now, I start by thinking about my project return, return to Chad. We came, we already discovered France, we saw many other countries next door. With our resident card, it allows us to get in and out everywhere. I have nothing more to discover so I still have to go home for my old age and then that’s it.

[i] Can you tell me a little bit about your acquaintances in France, in a rather general way?

[r] My friends in France are with my cousins, a small restricted circle. These are family ties that we maintain. We meet again, we remember a little bit of the country, our friends. The friends with whom we are engaged in the political, politico-military struggle, we meet again, we discuss our projects, what we must do to make things change at home. So, here’s a little… here’s a little bit of what I have in common. I have a few… a few French friends, I am a Christian, a Protestant Christian, I have brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I have a very good relationship, with whom we are called. Once a month, once a Saturday, we have a Bible study where we find, study the Bible. We pray, then we share some time together. These are my friends.

[i] Mr.[name of interviewee] , we went through almost all the questions so I wonder if there are any things we missed that you would like to add, or comments.

[r] No, but I think we’ve really gone around, I don’t know. I think we have….. we went through the whole question, my life here in France, my projects and my expectations. I think we’ve gone around here like that, there’s nothing that comes to mind.

[i] There’s not a last word? How can all these exchanges be summarized? What can we remember?

[r] The last word is that right now, Luc has a strong desire, a strong desire to return to Chad, to meet his mother, to live his mother’s last remaining moments, and then stop running in the Paris subway. Because it is not with a cheerful heart that I get up at 6 a.m., at 7 a.m. I have to be running in the subway. Don’t miss your subway or you’re late, don’t miss your bus, no! I want this stress to end and I want to go back to Chad, take my time and do things like a mbaye, a Chadian. Not tell me, yes, if I miss this subway, I’ll be late. No, no, no, I don’t want that anymore. I am really saturated with Parisian life. I want to return to Chad calmly, but the political environment in Chad does not allow me to return to Chad at this time. But being a believer, I think God will answer our prayers and I will return to Chad. I pray to God that he will still keep my mother, that I will go back to see her, that I will be able to share more moments with her, to see my brothers and sisters, to see my cousins and perhaps the parents and friends with whom we were doing crazy things in Chad, we will meet again for…. Now it will no longer be the world we are going to build, but it will be now, living memories, telling our memories, that is telling our children that we have seen France and that we have returned. That’s it! That’s it! That’s it! That’s it!

[i] Are you planning to write a book?

[r] I am, how should I put it… Although I am a literary person, I am currently having trouble writing. It is true that when I start writing, I write very easily, yet I have a blockage, I have trouble getting in front of a table, taking a pencil, taking a sheet of paper and starting to write. Maybe now, with the new technology, maybe one day, as we are doing, I can tell someone who will transcribe it, but I have become very lazy, very lazy to be able to write. A few years ago, I would have done it willingly, but now it’s going to be difficult. But maybe with the new communication techniques, maybe I could do something. I don’t know yet.

[i] Thank you[name of interviewee] .

[r] It’s me.

[i] See you soon. Thank you, thank you to you. See you soon!

[r] See you soon!