Guadeloupean Danielle Girondin, a life devoted to mutual aid and social ties, decorated with the National Order of Merit by Minister Élisabeth Moreno

Two days after her award, Danielle Girondin is still “surprised” to be the recipient of this decoration. “I was a thousand miles away from expecting this distinction, hence my astonishment when I received the mail,” says Danielle Girondin, along with our editorial staff. For this Guadeloupe, being at the service of others is above all “normal and natural” and an innate value. “It comes from my mother, I have always seen my mother help others without asking questions. I also went into it without asking myself any questions.. However, Danielle Girondin clarifies that “to receive this recognition is to say that we have been helpful”.

© Samia Badat
© Samia Badat

After spending all her youth in her home country of Guadeloupe, Danielle Girondin traveled to France at the age of 20 to find a job. She is referred to a medical-pedagogical institute looking for staff. Without knowledge of the subject, Danielle Girondin confirms “falling in love with people with autism”. “This love has never gone, I’ve made a job and a career out of it”. During her career, Danielle Girondin participated in a then experimental project, which consisted of reflecting on a new method of caring for people with autism. “This project allowed us to take autistics out of psychiatric hospitals and place them in houses purchased by the Alteris Association. For the first time, they went from patient status to citizen status. To give them a home was to offer them a part of their humanity ”. A love that lasted thirty years and still continues. “Even when I retire today, I am still very close to my colleagues, to my workplace, to the residents that I have followed all these years. Working with autism and nursing beyond the hospital is something that has been very important to me throughout my career.

Her career with autistics led to her becoming a city councilor for the town of Ballancourt in Essonne. For Danielle Girondin, it is a way of acting on the political level, to make things happen on the care of autistics. Through her tenure as a local councilor, she joined the board of Caf de l’Essonne. “Finally, everything had a connection because I on the board was able to take an interest in family-level monitoring.”

It was in this context that Danielle Girondin met Aissata Cissé, then founder and president of the Generation II Association, who invited her to one of the association’s meetings. “Until now, I did not know anything about associations. I attended a meeting where a group of fathers discussed drug issues with the police. I never left this association.

As with her entire career, Danielle Girondin became fully involved in the Generation II Association, of which she first became vice president and then president. “Within the association, I am also driven by social ties, mutual help with others, I have also found a way to address the issues in the area.“.

© Facebook Generation II
© Facebook Generation II

The association, which has existed since the beginning of the 2000s, promotes the bonds of solidarity and mutual help between the inhabitants of the area by facilitating dialogue between cultures in a district, between districts and between cities, plays an interface between young people and institutions, facilitates access to fundamental rights prevents social exclusion. “At Generation II, we are an association that complements what exists in social affairs.”

Asked about the development of this social bond in France, Danielle Girondin emphasizes it “The Covid-19 crisis has made it possible to reveal the existence of this social bond, especially in the suburbs. Within Generation II, we realized that there was a lot of mutual help between the inhabitants, in the residential areas. This link has always been there, but it went unnoticed with all the negative problemss ». Today, Danielle Girondin especially wants the dialogue to return to the hearth of words. Dialogue is a theme that Danielle Girondin’s association is very sensitive to with the creation of a group of fathers who rebuild the connections between young people from different districts in Essonne, rebuild the connections between young people and the police.

© Facebook Generation II
© Facebook Generation II

But above all, Danielle Girondin is in favor of a return of humanity to society. “ In my opinion, it just requires a little more compassion. At Generation II, we make it an honor to welcome people who come in through our door. When I talk about humanity, it is to look at the other as we would like it to look at us, to regard the other as himself. That’s something I’ve learned from autistic people.“, Concludes Danielle Girondin.

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