CENTRE BON ACCUEIL
In 2014, Centre Bon Accueil in central France was bought as a Plymouth Brethren school to cater for over 100 students. The buildings, steeped in history, have required a lot of restoration. Read on to learn more:
In 1835 the boarding school “Notre-Dame” was established just outside the town of Vienne. It belonged to the feminine religious order “Compagnie Notre-Dame” for young girls’ education. From 1851 to 1880, new buildings and the chapel completed the institution. In 1905, due to new secularity laws the nuns went into exile in Holland. The building was then bought as a private boarding school and the running of it was entrusted to a non-religious body. From 1914 to 1920, it was transformed into a hospital under the name “Bon Accueil” (this translates to Good Welcome). During World War 2, the building became a school again and housed numerous refugees. SInce 1945 more buildings were added and it operated as a boarding school with numbers up to 500 pupils. It ceased operation abruptly in 2012. The school was left as it was, right down to piles of books, and scientific equipment remaining.
This investment in the future of children has been very positively supported by the members of the PBCC in France. The buildings and property offer great options and facilities. It is located in an effective area; Vienne is in the crossroads of motorways, and only 33 km south of the city of Lyon.
Since the beginning of March this year, the Plymouth Brethren have been doing extended volunteer work to refurbish the “Bon Accueil” centre, which will not only be used as a school but also as a business center. Their goal is to finish all the necessary work so the pupils can start their school year in September. It will cater for numerous children from different places in the Rhône-Alpes area, from distances up to 100 km away.
The local council also looks at the work in a favourable light as it had hoped the school would remain as such instead of being developed. The council is also glad to see the Brethren are improving the standard of the buildings.
With cheerfulness and enthusiasm, the Plymouth Brethren are applying their hands to the work. Everybody has a job! If not as a labourer, it is catering or cleaning. The building has to be modernized to suit today’s teaching practices. There will be a self-directed learning area and areas for Virtual Classrooms, as well as IT Rooms, and conference rooms.
The young people who volunteer definitely enjoy the work as it develops their knowledge and experience in manual labour. They experience a sense of community as they all working towards a common goal. Furthermore, they are having fun! When the sun is shining bright and the temperature pushing 35°C, some buckets of water find their way down people’s backs as they work – all in good spirit, of course!
From the start, Plymouth Brethren members have been coming to help from all over France. Internationally, it is also an opportunity for visitors from Germany, England, Switzerland and more to come and give a hand, and, in the meantime, catch up with friends!