French volunteer falls in love with the Philippines

Julie Saurat has always been passionate about volunteering for NGOs. That’s why when an opportunity to work for a foundation in the Philippines presented itself, it didn’t take long for her to say yes.

“I thought right away: ‘This is exactly what I was looking for!’” she said. After a four-year stint in France, the young lass didn’t hesitate to pack her bags and visit the Philippines for a chance to do volunteer work again.

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“It wasn’t hard to convince me. I mean, I work with people that are truly committed and passionate about our cause. It’s always a pleasure to speak with my colleagues as we may not come from the same country but we do share the same values,” she said.

Julie quickly fell in love with the Philippines as soon as she began her job as a sponsorship officer for Virlanie Foundation, a non-government organization that takes special care of abused and neglected children.

For over a year, she served as a bridge between the children and their sponsors from France, Belgium, and Switzerland to ensure a life-long relationship between them.
“Whenever I see kids from the foundation, I would feel very hopeful,” Julie said.

“They may look like kids who had a normal life but really, they didn’t. From an early age, they were exposed to abuse, poverty, tragedy,” she added.

“[But now] they are surrounded by people who love them and who take care of them. It’s the greatest feeling ever,” she said.

Although her stay in the Philippines has officially ended, Julie said that she’ll always remember the places, the culture and the amazing people that she met while she was in the country.

For more than two decades, Virlanie Foundation has been taking care of underprivileged children through various initiatives and services such as its residential program where street children get to live in a home that has acting parents that can guide them as they grow up.

As it marked its 25th anniversary last year, the foundation announced that it has provided assistance to 17,000 children.

“I had come to the Philippines some 30 years ago to help establish this foundation. Then, until now, even if the journey has been difficult, I have never regretted or felt tired fighting for the rights of these children. They are all wonderful, talented individuals who have been dealt unique challenges, but each and everyone of them has been able to bravely rise up from their circumstances,” shared Virlanie founder and president Dominique Lemay.

Story courtesy of Philippine Star’s Christian Imperio

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