Francophonie without borders: “we can all defend Francophonie as best we can, at any scale”

The French abroad: What is francophonie without borders?

Ronan Dumas-Labbe : This is an international NGO that was created in 2017 and currently brings together nearly 300 volunteers around the world. It was founded by Benjamin Boutin and Marie-Astrid Berry. They started from the observation that representation of international civil society was necessary to mobilize around Francophonie issues. For too long these issues were reserved to the States, the OIF, the Ministries of Culture and their partners (French Institutes, French Alliances, etc.). We try to convey the voice of French-speaking civil society, to represent the people who make it up. The objective is to make people understand that we can all defend the Francophonie, at any scale. Our motto is: “Together we create lasting bonds for the French-speaking world.” In fact, we consider that the objective of our action is not Francophonie itself, but the values ​​of respect, integrity and solidarity that it entails.

How are these links created?

As for the FSF, we like to talk about “grassroots francophonie.” We organize field visits, conferences and marches to mobilize and raise awareness among the general public about the problems facing the French-speaking world. We are going to schools, universities, we will speak directly with young people to raise awareness and invite them to get involved in the Francophonie. Among our projects, for example, we organized a hackathon in Cotonou, Benin. The idea was to develop an application in French, to promote access to culture through digital technology. We have also held international conferences and symposiums on sustainable development. Our next meeting will be held in Madagascar in November 2024 and will have the theme of the blue economy.

He also launched radio Francophonie sans frontières in 2020. What does this radio offer?

FSF radio is one of the projects we are most proud of. It was created during the Covid pandemic by volunteers Sophie Hamel-Dufour and Thibaut Temmerman. They wanted to implement a system that would allow them to continue meeting while they were confined. This is how his “podcast” was born, today powered by half a dozen volunteers. They film programs around the Francophonie, such as the cultural program “La Voix de la Diversité” or the “Grandes Interviews”, interviews with important figures of the Francophonie. We release three to four episodes per month and currently have 80 episodes available on different platforms such as Spotify or Apple Podcast. We have also planned a live broadcast on Facebook, on the occasion of Francophonie Month. In 2023, we register 64,000 listeners worldwide, especially in India, the United States and Colombia, countries with a large number of French students.

The Francophonie Summit will be held this year on October 4 and 5, 2024 in Villers-Cotterêts. What do you have planned for this occasion?

In fact, we will be present during the Francophonie Summit. We are currently preparing the activities and conferences that we will offer there, with the idea of ​​promoting the concrete aspect of our action. I was already in Djerba (Tunisia) in November 2022 for the last summit, but this year we want to be even more visible. That is why we want to bring our international volunteers to France so that they can raise awareness among the general public: we want to meet those responsible for the projects to show them that these projects can be carried out in French.

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