x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

French humanitarian organisation working in the UAE

The Council of the Legion of Honour and the National Merit Award has organised a dinner to raise funds for needy children. The objective of the organisation is to strengthen the relationship between France and the UAE.

ABU DHABI // French university students and schoolchildren across the UAE are expected to receive support from a service organisation in Abu Dhabi.

The Council of the Legion of Honour members and the National Merit Award has organised a gala dinner in the capital on Saturday to raise funds for needy children.

“The objective of the organisation is to strengthen the relationship between France and the UAE,” said Maryse Laurenti, the organisation’s president. “It is also to support the young students here, improving their knowledge and helping French expatriates who encounter difficulties.”

Set up a year ago in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the organisation has more than 30 members, with its numbers increasing.

“This Legion of Honour is given to those who provided services to their country and very few people have it,” she said. “I am an officer myself and there are only 7,000 in the world. My husband is also a knight.”

Mrs Laurenti has helped many French expatriates over the past 34 years across the GCC.

“Four or five years ago, a French fisherman near the Iranian border got arrested,” she said. “So I helped his wife and daughter to get by and live after that. I also visit French people in prison here.”

The organisation aims to help young French in the UAE and to create a stronger link between the countries.

“We help people who have problems, who need help or care,” she said. “I cover all the GCC region in helping, advising, guiding French expatriates and I check in each French school that everything is OK so, if there is a problem I help in solving it.”

The aim is also to establish a network between legionnaires of different nationalities in the UAE and widen its scope.

“People don’t really know what it is,” she said. “But we want to add more value to it.”

An expected 300 people, including diplomatic and military authorities in the UAE, will attend the dinner on Saturday, which will also mark the visit of Gen Jean-Louis Georgelin, Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honour Award and Chancellor of the National Order of Merit.

Organisers hope the dinner will establish a fund to help such students as well as children with special needs.

“Maybe some families don’t have enough funds to send their children on a school trip so we can help if we are able to,” said Jean-Pierre Laurenti, Mrs Laurenti’s husband and administrator at the organisation. “This is one example of how we can help.”

cmalek@thenational.ae