Pondicherry offers the best breaks, believes Julie Dutertre. The French social worker relocated here in January and currently works at a NGO that helps displaced children.
Dutertre says she has always wanted to help people. With a degree in humanitarian aid, her hunt for the perfect NGO ended when she came across the four-year-old Chemins d’Enfances. They wanted someone to coordinate between the local office in Pondicherry and the team in Paris and Dutertre was up for the job. ‘‘The mission of the NGO is to promote the sustainable well-being of children in difficulty. They implement programmes based on play, education and cultural activities,’’ she says. The NGO primarily helps disabled and street children in Pondicherry. “I have to check the accounts, organise events to promote the NGO and look for new partners,’’ she says, adding, ‘‘One of the first things we do is teach them survival skills and to encourage them to stand up for themselves. They need to communicate, socialise, learn to share games and toys and not be envious.’’
When Dutertre is not working at the NGO, she gets together with the friends she has made here, swims at the Bodhi Beach and explores the town, ‘‘I also try visiting places around Pondi-cherry like Gingee, Pichavaram, Chennai and Mahabalipuram,’’ she says. Clearly in love with her adopted town, Dutertre likes that you can get around, work and relax without too much pressure. ‘‘There are a lot of cafes and restaurants which are quiet and peaceful. I like catching up with acquaintances, sipping coffee or just reading a book in places like these. For French speaking people, this is a home away from home,’’ she concludes.