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Nepal: Meeting with Raphaël Sassaro, an Accor employee who has taken solidarity leave

Eager to share his professional expertise, Raphaël Sassaro, Trading Room Sales Adviser at the Accor France Distribution Division, has embarked on the solidarity leave adventure. Raphaël was in Nepal from 11 to 26 January 2014. His mission was to improve the management and operation of the office of the "Independent Living Center" which welcomes young disabled adults.

Two months after his return, Raphaël talks about his experience.

  • How did you prepare for such a mission?

Firstly, I read up a lot about the country to know the customs. Then I met people who had already been to Nepal, I talked to them about their experience there. I also revised my management, business and IT lessons in order to be ready to teach the basics!

  • How was your life there?

My days revolved around training in the morning and afternoon while coping with power outages that could occur at any time!

In the evening, I was in search of change and discovery. I had dinner a few nights at the hotel restaurant frequented by locals, which allowed me to observe their habits. I shared an evening with the entire board of the association in a typical Nepali restaurant, an evening of great joy, simplicity and discovery of the local dishes ... eaten without knives and forks! I also met a young Swiss woman from Ticino (Italian canton), a trained anthropologist, who left a comfortable life to come and live a very simple existence in Nepal. Her story really moved me. Finally, I had dinner with the local manager of Planète Urgence and members of associations including Médecins du Monde and Médecins Sans Frontières, and enjoyed rich and interesting discussions with them.  I was also able to meet many people. They enriched me and helped me get the most out of my mission.

  • What are the moments / encounters that made the most impression?

The moment that impressed me the most was my first day at the association, when participants took turns to introduce themselves. They smiled as they described their disability. I was struck by their strength. The "one to one" interviews with each of my students also provided interesting discussions. Finally, I was very touched to have been invited to the premiere of a film about the difficulties and the perception of disabled people in Nepal.

                                                  raphaelsassarook RaphaelSassarook2

    • What have you learned from this experience?

    A great lesson in humility! I was surprised at people's ability to adapt. We often forget it in our Western society. We are always looking for the easy option through the use of modern technology. Being confronted with reality forced me to make the most of the limited resources I had available: 1 table and 2 felt pens! "

    • Is it important for you that the Accor Group offers its employees the opportunity to get involved in this type of mission?

    Yes, absolutely, this allows us to test ourselves. This sort of experience is a means of taking a step back and getting things into perspective.

    I would also like to especially thank Armelle Mougenot of the Solidarity Accor team who has always been attentive and listened to me. She proved to be a valuable link between Planète Urgence and me.