Stays in Conques

February 2020


The first day is always special. We all get to know each other. "We know we've all lived through more or less the same story, we've all been through Libya, but each of us is unique," says Egbal, in English, during a first group meeting. It's a meeting where we list a few rules of life so that the stay goes as smoothly as possible. As Anas, who is coming for the second time, says, "we are the Limbo family".


Yesterday evening, we exchanged a lot about Europe and Libya. David told us about the "boza". The boza is the crossing of the Mediterranean. He sang "Hey brother, Bailo, could you lend me your little shoe before doing the boza?" That night we all sang together. Today, at the table, next to the fireplace or even on our way back from art therapy, we continue to talk about exile, on this long, uncertain and dangerous road. But inevitable. Conques is a place of respite where no one is obliged to recount their experiences. But sometimes, tongues are loosened and the words comes out in a continuous stream.


This week the art therapy takes place in a large amphitheatre. "Like the stars" says Kenan. Thanks to Linda-Kris, the art therapist, we come into contact with each other. One day we learn to trust each other by closing our eyes and letting someone else guide our hands. The next day we form a circle. Each in turn, we put ourselves in the centre and express who we are through dance. For our last exercise, hand in hand, we run together towards the front of the stage shouting our names: "Djibi!", "Mohamed!", ""Egbal!", "Bailo!" ... Proud to be together. Proud to be who we are. A cry from the heart, to tell everyone "I am alive".


In Conques, beyond art therapy and exchanges, there are encounters. And often, artistic encounters. Aveyron is a land rich in craftsmen. This is the second time that Valérian brings young people from Limbo into the world of the circus. The group, amazed at first, gradually splits up. We are halfway through the stay, the days have been dense and intense, so for some of them, the need to isolate themselves appears... Like a need for a bubble to digest all these new memories, good and not so good, for these people whose daily life in CADA (reception centre for asylum seekers) is gloomy.


In Conques, we get up early, we do a lot of activities and as Bailo says: "For us the days are twice as tiring. We are physically tired and we are mentally tired because we are constantly thinking about everything we have been through". So this Friday morning we decided to take the time to rest. The rest of the day goes peacefully. We go to art therapy, we play pétanque. For some, this fifth day ends with a magnificent sunset over the vineyards surrounding the village. The young people take advantage of this moment of respite. A full day awaits them tomorrow: they will have to prepare culinary specialities of their country for the group and the Conquois invited to our evening.


For Margot, Djibril, Bailo and Anas, the day starts at 7am with a run. And a magnificent sunrise in an idyllic setting. The day passed quietly until our usual party on the last evening. A chance to take your mind off things, to get outside. And outside is exactly what we did. Together we sang and danced until we couldn't take it anymore. Despite our cultural differences, it was all together that we sang "Aïcha".


This is the last day. And it is already time to say goodbye to David, Renée and Mélanie, who are on their way to Lyon. It is in song and to the rhythm of the percussions that we accompany them to their car. Soon, we will all have to leave us and go back to our lodgings, in our CADAs. Bailo and Anas, the two friends who met during the previous stay in Limbo, know that they will see each other again: "We've been seeing each other every weekend in Lille since we met in Conques". Egbal and Sophia also promise to see each other again. That's the magic of Limbo. We weave very strong bonds, we find friends, a family. After a last night spent in the train, comes the moment of hugs at the Austerlitz train station. We split up, hoping to meet again soon in Paris, Lille, Lyon or why not in Conques.