Volunteering Abroad France

Volunteering Abroad

Volunteering abroad, is an article written by Reuben Lachmansingh, a published author from Canada. Reuben is currently volunteering at La Giraudiere in France, here are a few paragraphs from his article which will explain more than I,

“I came with a unique personal experience, having participated in the International Cultural Exchange Programme (ICEP) started by the late Robert Tesdell (1919-2001) from his New York city office.

During the late seventies to the eighties, my wife Pauline and I hosted hundreds of young people from Europe, answering Tesdell’s call, during the fall in our motel in Niagara Falls, Canada. They had acted as counsellors in youth camps in the USA and at the end of their session, were repaid with a tour of interesting sights in America while staying with host families or at low-cost motels.

At the time of writing this I’m involved in a project that is the reverse of my role in Tesdell’ s ICEP project, in that my fellow participants involved with the La Giraudiere project in Brossac, France, are from Tesdell’s  USA, as well as from Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. We are fulfilling Tesdell’s dream of greater human understanding and international peace through friendship and educational initiatives.

This article, volunteering abroad, is written by Reuben Lachmansingh, a published author from Canada. You can read the full article at, Volunteering Abroad

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Canadian volunteer Comes to Grips with French Plaque au Feu

French Plaque de Feu

Here at Giraudière, two cast iron fireplate plaques, fabicated in 1659, were found in two different fireplaces of the original Master’s mansion built around that time.

The two plaques have been cleaned and made ready for painting. Natalaie a volunteer from the UK has been painting the plaques so as to make ready for their resting place at La Giraudiere.

Plaque de feu

Natalie after preparing the two plaques

The first one is hexagonal in shape, approximately 70 centimeters in width and length. At the centre is a shield showing the fleur-de-lys, once the badge of the French Kingdom. On top of it is the Royal crown, portraying authority. On both sides, flanking the shield and crown are two palm branches, which since antiquity have been symbolic of victory, triumph, peace, and eternal life. Christianity sees the palm branch as victory of the spirit over flesh.
The second plaque is a square of the same dimension. At the base is Saint Eustace, a 2nd century patron saint of hunters and anyone facing adversity.
Eustace was the Roman general Placidus, who while hunting in Tivoli near Rome, saw the vision of a crucifix stuck between a stag’s antlers. This affected him so much, he decided to convert to Christianity.
“Canadian Volunteer Comes to Grips with French Plaque au Feu” is an article written by Reuben Lachmansingh describing the history of the  French fireplace fireback found at La Giraudiere. You can read the full article at French Plaque De Feu


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New volunteers join the crew in south-west France.

New volunteers join the crew in south-west France.


It has been a hectic period here at La Giraudiere with many new volunteers arriving and many saying their farewells. This week we had some new arrivals willing to step up for Team LG, three Londoners and a Glaswegian; Robert, David, Roy and Natalie. The veterans of the group helped us get acquainted with life at La Giraudiere and we soon felt at home.

The first full day for the new volunteers group was soon under way, helping with the restoration of the Old House focussing primarily on the main reception area. Others helped with blogging (this post for example) whilst some are helping to create a new website for the village of Brossac. This should be live next week at Brossac Village. The volunteers are generally helping to turn the derelict into a buzzing centre of life.


Natalie, kitted out in the most sort after overalls, was making a new seating area for what will be the reception in the Old House. Natalie a third year undergraduate student  is studying Quantity Surveying so the seats should hopefully be here to stay.


David, spent his first day repairing and testing all of LG’s bicycles. Thanks to him the volunteers and interns will be able to go for a group bike ride in the near-future.

Roy Old House Plastering

Dr Roy, a retired general practioner from Scotland, was learning how to plaster. A major change for a man who previously would have plastered your broken limbs.


John spent the day repointing and tidying up the brickwork of the old fireplace in the Old House. The plan is for the fireplace to eventually be restored to its original red brick appearance and with this it is one step closer to a full restoration.


We must say farewell to Niamh, whose volunteer career in France was cut short too soon. Niamh from Ireland worked on the blogging, the gardening and also in the Old House. You are sadly missed. We hope she enjoys her further travels in France.


Jimmy from New Zealand is here on an internship and is helping with the smooth running of La Giraudiere. His current pet project is the new Brossac village website.

More blog posts by our volunteers are soon to follow.


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Volunteers’ weekend adventures : Exploring French villages

Weekend away and learning French.

After finishing three rewarding days of work the volunteers began their weekend of fun the best way possible: the concert at the lake. What a magical night it was. We all sat on the grass among the locals sipping our drinks and enjoying the unique performance by the talented group ‘The Bukatribe’. We also got a chance to chat to the group afterwards which was an excellent way of helping us excel in French. And we even got a picture! Lucky us!!!

concert at the lake

Sunset at the lake while enjoying the concert.

We rose early on Saturday in anticipation of our day trip planned impeccably by Paul. We left La Giraudiere at half 8 heading straight to Bourdeilles – a scenic village located along the river Dronne. The main attraction was certainly ‘Le Château’.  We climbed to the top where we met a breathtaking view – certainly worth the seemingly never ending stairs we climbed.

chateau de bourdeilles

Château de Bourdeilles.


view bourdeilles

The view from the castle

Next we headed to Brantôme –  my favourite place I have visited so far. L’ambiance était magnifique!!! Lunch consisted of delicious gallettes, omelettes and salads in an excellent restaurant;. After dining we had a leisurely stroll along the river and into the shops where we all bought some small presents for our family. Then we explored the historical Abbey before heading to our next destination – Aubettere sur Dronne. The most impressive feature of this village was, of course the church. We spent the evening chatting to Paul’s friends while enjoying a drink and a crepe. This was an excellent opportunity to practice our French. We all tried our best to engage in conversation. They even invited us to vist them in La Rochelle!!!

brantome river


What a wonderful weekend of exploring three scenic historical villages and practicing our French after a week spent volunteering.


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Working abroad in France.

A day working abroad in France.

After a delicious pasta bake made by Olivia for dinner, last night came to a close with a wonderful game of cards whilst watching the sunset. We shared stories about our home towns, our travels and our hopes for the future. I loved listening to all Rhian’s stories about her travels to places such as California, Africa and New Zealand. What a ‘formidable’ way to spend an evening working abroad. Then, we all happily headed to bed eager to start more work tomorrow.

Today saw the group doing a variety of tasks.                                                                       Olivia used her french skills to translate the Brossac village’s website from english to french. Kathryn had the very important role of answering emails and scheduling the dates of future volunteers. Later she analysed La Giraudiere’s accounts. Joanna spent the day up on the ladder painting the shutters. The difference a bit of paint makes!!! The place looks great!

Olivia working

Olivia working hard translating


blog 2 K

Kathryn doing the accounts

Joanna working

Joanna painting

Rhian got kitted out in her work gear as she spent the morning gardening. She trimmed the plants and raked away any unwanted debris. The garden is looking better already!! Unfortunately as we moved into the afternoon the rain arrived so Rhian decided to fix the bikes. I’m already looking forward to our cycle this evening!

blog 2 Rhian

Rhian out in the garden


Niamh blog

Niamh writing the blog


The plan for tonight is very exciting as we are hosting a barbeque with the neighbours and then heading down to the lake for the concert and perhaps a crepe!! Hopefully the weather stays in our favour! It certainly sounds like a wonderful way to spend an evening after a rewarding day working abroad in France.

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