I have really started to live my life at 24 years old, as before my parents were deciding everything for me. I have an older sister who stopped her studies at 19 years old. She stayed at home, and I could see through her what I would become: a housewife cooking at home, which is not a world that interests me.
We moved to France when I was 7 years old with my sister and my 2 brothers. The 5th child, my brother, was born in France. I was the middle child and was the ugly duckling, I escaped in books. School helped me a lot even if I was not the best one. What helped me was sport and everything that was related to arts. I had a French teacher who did not focus on grammatical mistakes but rather on writing itself, and he encouraged us to write. I loved to read books like Stephen King, with real stories, not romantic novels. I loved to dream about an exciting and adventurous life and I was living it through books. On the weekend, we did nothing except receiving guests, or my parents would visit other people. We were not going to Algeria for holidays. There was not such a thing like a culture shared by our parents. I was told that I was a girl so I didn’t had the right to do this or that. But in the meantime, I was part of two different cultures and it was not easy for me to see the others enjoying and having fun. So I started to protest and complain and we were beaten, my brother and I were the two pet peeves. Even if we were adults, we were considered as children.
All the projects I had were going up to smoke. I wanted to become a caregiver but my father was against it because I had to sleep at the working place. I then decided to see my teacher in charge of organising summer exchanges because I needed money to pay my room and I didn’t want to live alone. The same evening, she received a call from a woman in Spain that needed an au pair. I directly accepted but it was my father who kept my identification documents. So I requested for a French nationality. Since I couldn’t go out without my father, we worked on a system with the mayor of the city Reichstett, in order for me to request my citizenship. So I left, and when I returned I went to see this teacher and I met a woman that was there with her. This woman offered me to move in her house in exchange of my cleaning service. So this became my second family, it was like finding a second mother. Nowadays, I still keep contact with them. Later, I decided to start studying again, I was 25 years old and I didn’t want to be a caregiver anymore.
I never had problem with integration while being adult at work or elsewhere as I arrived in France as a child and I went to school. The only difficulties I faced were at school when we arrived in France. We were the 4 Arabs always together, excluded from the other children of the classroom. When something happened like theft or getting head lice, it was “us”, our fault. Then, a new headmaster arrived and he changed everything: he mixed us with others, he wanted us to get to know each other and ensure that there were no more differences. This helped me to move on but the difficulties where rather cultural and familial. At 30 years old, I went back to school to pass the competition to become a monitor-educator. I later moved to Jura (East of France), and married a French man. We didn’t had any problem with religion or culture.
Finally, school really helped me because it has opened my mind. Through books, I managed to escape, with the stories first, and later thanks to my personal development to discover and understand life.
The information centres for women and families have also helped me a lot, especially because they give legal advice. At this time, they were also providing financial help for training courses or temporary difficulties. When I came back from Jura, those associations helped me a lot during the time I needed to get back on my feet, for instance by providing food baskets. I have also seen a family and social advisor to which I could confide when I needed advice. I have also worked on my-self, in order for my situation not impact my children. To give it back, I helped them out for instance during Christmas Eve. I couldn’t give money but I engaged my time and I did it with a happy heart and a happy mind.