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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Une petite fille de France dans la clandestinité

by Olivier Mayer

A Little Girl From France is in Hiding

Translated Friday 8 June 2007, by Emma Paulay

L’Humanité has decided to publish the letter from the parents of a secondary school pupil who is living in fear of being expelled from the country.

Mr Sarkozy, let her grow up here!

This is a secondary school like many others, in a working-class area of a large town. A school which is in no way classed as “potentially problematic”. Mrs M is a teacher and tutor of a group of first years. She teaches ordinary children aged eleven or twelve. Like all teachers, Mrs M is as attentive as possible to her pupils’ home environment. She knows that the young A is from a Latin American country, that she came to France three years ago and that her parents still have difficulties with the French language.

She knows that A’s little brother was born in France. She knows that A lives in run-down hotels with her parents, that she often has to move on and that at the moment she is staying a long way from the school which means a long journey each day.

She also knows that A’s parents often have problems paying all the canteen bills. However, in this school, no doubt as in many others, people help each other get over this sort of situation. On 10 May this year, A gave her tutor this letter that her parents had dictated to her. The teachers had had no idea of the real administrative situation of A’s family…

Everyone rallied round straightaway

As soon as the letter was made known, mobilisation was immediate and all the school’s teaching staff showed their commitment: the teachers all (except one) signed a text asking for the family’s papers to be put in order. The parents’ association was also involved. A’s parents were put in contact with the Education Sans Frontières (Education Without Boundaries) network who are now helping them with their situation. In France, in 2007, some children, who should only be worried about growing up happily, are living in hiding and in fear. This letter, which brings us proof of that, deserved to be made public.

Translator’s note: here is the letter described in the above article, published (anonymously) in the same edition of l’Humanité

Dear Madame M,

Last Monday a little girl called A, did not come to school because she had a bad stomach. I’ll tell you why she had this problem - Nicolas Sarkozy’s victory in the presidential elections. She started feeling nervous on the Sunday as the results were being announced and when she woke up on Monday, she stayed in bed.

Madame, my daughter is our treasure, she can’t be made to suffer in this way. Yet we want to ask you, with all the strength we can muster, to write a letter as the Head of the school, with the signatures of all A’s teachers demanding that she receives official papers. We will give this letter to the prefecture.

Madam, we ask you to excuse us, and for France to excuse us, for being in an irregular situation with our papers, not to have paid all our children’s meals at school. You have all felt sorry for us we want to get out of all this dilemma, we love France...

Please, please, help us! This is the opportunity to give our duaghter a dignified life. We await your reply and we appreciate all you have done for us."

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