Camping Etoile d'Argens
22 June - Departure
2 young women from the San Lorenzo First Nation reserve - Ecolodge L\'Etoile d\'Argens Campsite in Fréjus

 

The Ecolodge
Etoile d’Argens

Foundation

Committed to helping

A foundation designed to help, protect, and act

Through the will of Michel Raffaelli, the owner of this campsite, the Climate Watcher Foundation (CW) has tasked themselves with the mission of financing and co-financing numerous citizen projects around the world. These programmes aim to help all those who need a helping hand in preserving the environment and protecting the fauna and flora. To help these projects thrive, a portion of the profits made by the Ecolodge L’Etoile d’Argens campsite are donated to the foundation each year.

Columbian midwives joining in a purification ritual - Ecolodge L\'Etoile d\'Argens Campsite in Fréjus

Our most
important projects

Building
an earthquake-proof school in Nepal

Karuna-Schechen, the association created by Matthieu Ricard, is currently building an earthquake-proof school in the Ruby Valley in Nepal, a 2000 metre-high altitude village named Kharsa. This regions suffers from many of the characteristics of a typical Himalayan village, such as isolation, freezing temperatures, difficult road access, an impoverished local population, to name a few. In 2015, an earthquake struck the valley, causing a large amount of damage and weakening an already vulnerable population. The education system was also harshly impacted.

The main issues linked to education in Nepal:

  • Local schools are very poorly financed, as well as being under-staffed and insufficient infrastructures. The Shree Kharsa Gau Basic School in the village of Kharsa is one of these schools.
  • Due to these lack of resources, the school is unable to build classrooms. The children all are forced to study in the same room, which has thin walls and is not sufficiently protected from potential earthquakes.

Our project aims to expand the existing school by adding new buildings to the infrastructures already in place. The materials used are local, as are the workers, allowing us to create job opportunities in this area.

Our goal is the following: create a safe, creative environment adapted for children inside the school so they can be given a proper education.

This project consists in:

  • The construction of a new building with four classrooms.
  • A playroom
  • A new toilet block
  • A new kitchen and staff-room.
  • Landscaping renovation

What we hope to achieve:

  • The classrooms will be safe and bad weather-proof, including from earthquakes.
  • The playroom will allow children to play inside, a useful commodity in the case of snow and rain, while also providing them with a creative space to flourish.
  • The toilet facilities will be improved to become more hygienic
  • The kitchen and staff-room will be able to hold more equipment and improve the services provided to the children and staff.
  • The landscaping amendments will make the school safer, as well as creating an outside space for children to play.
  • The local community will be provided with local skills and instructions to help construct earthquake-proof buildings that are also
    respectful to the environment and made from local materials.

The philanthropic ECOLODGE foundation is financing part of this project. The completion of the school is planned for 2024.

Helping indigenous women reconnect with their ancestors in Columbia

A diagnosis was proclaimed in early 2022 by the “Asociacion de mujeres custodias de saberes ancestrales”, translated as the association of female guardians of ancestral (indigenous) knowledge located on the Indian reserve of San Lorenzo in Las Caldas in Columbia.

Their urgent, top priority today is to allow women to give birth in a serene, dignified and safe manner, far away from the hospitals where they suffer violent gynaecological and obstetric interventions. To achieve this goal, these women need a local clinic with sufficient surgical supplies. Female doctors are trained and ready to intervene, with 22 midwives in total counted in this village. Currently, the women helping these pregnant women give birth in their own home do not receive a wage.

Young Columbian women from the San Lorenzo First Nation reserve - Ecolodge L\'Etoile d\'Argens Campsite in Fréjus

The family care systems in San Lorenzo, and in particularly, in Columbia, remain a very patriarchal entity. Due to the women not being paid, they possess no financial independence. Isolated and alone, they also suffer from physical, verbal, and domestic violence. The women of this association practice alternative medicine using plants, oils and massages for all types of diseases and to prepare the female patients to give birth. They wish to grow these medicinal plants on a piece of land that the Ecolodge Etoile d’Argens Foundation is planning to finance before the end of 2022. Through the acquisition of this land, the foundation helps to highlight and support the different tasks of these women, such as farming, sewing, and cooking, they hope to achieve this goal through the construction of a building for these tasks to take place.

A large majority of the women mentioned above are seamstresses who make the children’s’ school uniforms and towels for the village, as well as eco-friendly sanitary towels. However, they do not possess enough means or material to continue their work. When the diagnosis by the women’s association was announced in March 2021, the foundation was able to finance two industrial sewing machines for this purpose. The women wish to raise awareness and educate other women about the sanitary protection they make, as the classic sanitary protection sold contain irritating and dangerous products, which can lead to infection and various other diseases. In addition, due to the poor manage of waste within the territory, the disposable sanitary protection items are thrown into nature, polluting the soil.

Members of the First Nation community joining in a purification ritual - Ecolodge L\'Etoile d\'Argens Campsite in Fréjus

The project being undertaken by these women is rooted in a spiritual, ancestral dynamic. The members of the aforementioned association perform several types of rituals in order to purify, protect, and send their intentions out into the world. They are not trying to challenge the patriarchy, they simply wish to help make the women more independent. They do not consider themselves feminists, though the movement itself is aligned with a feminist cause. They accentuate an important distinction between fighting and caring: they are not “fighting” against the system, but are trying to open it up to love. The doctrine they follow: “When a woman connects with her feminine essence, she is reminded that she is the perfect reflection of Mother Nature. She discovers a magical environment, where everything she needs already resides within her. In order to achieve this state of mind, it is important to know and reinforce the teachings of the natural medicine she carries inside her.”

Columbian midwife wearing a colourful outfit - Ecolodge L\'Etoile d\'Argens Campsite in Fréjus