“It is very enriching to produce such stunning work”

Interview with Harmony Rochais, trainer-technical supervisor responsible for the carpentry workshop.

Acta Vista-e

What is the background of the carpentry workshop employees?

Most of the employees already have some carpentry experience in their home countries, as safety regulations for the workshop machines are strict. Apart from Larissa, who was a ballet dancer in Russia: she was forced to leave home and retrain. She is a quick learner…
We manufacture all the structures and components needed for the hospital project and Acta Vista’s other projects, including doors and windows. We currently have 100 traditional French-style windows to make for the former harbour master’s office on Port-Miou creek, a small castle restored by Acta Vista. It is very enriching to produce such stunning work.

The eight employees develop their skills on the machinery and work in the way they will in a business in the future. As they are constantly faced with typical workplace situations, we receive excellent feedback from their new employers once they leave Acta Vista: they are ready to hit the ground running.

How did you become the workshop manager at the age of 22?

I was an academic failure before discovering woodworking at the age of 15. Having trained with the Compagnons du Devoir, I obtained my CAP (vocational training certificate) and spent four years working in different parts of France as part of this scheme. I then took a BTM (higher technical qualification) in woodworking to become workshop manager. I have been working in this industry for seven years. I love it and I like passing on my knowledge. I have been replacing Camille for the past two months at Acta Vista. Camille also trained with the Compagnons du Devoir and is currently on maternity leave.

I am demanding with the employees in order to remain faithful to the companions’ values (fairness, diligence, punctuality and respect). My aim is to ready them for working in a company. I work in tandem with the project manager, keeping tabs on employees and helping them to solve problems. Some come from Afghanistan and Syria and they have all experienced difficulties in life. I want to convince them that nobody is unemployable. Anyone who feels “useless” has simply not found the right occupation for them and we are here to help them develop their career plans. 

More about the Acta Vista’s projects and Veolia Foundation support.