Véronique Bélec

Despite all the organization required to carry out a humanitarian mission, the real driving force behind these projects is the desire to help. We may think that we don’t have the resources needed to aid others, but all it takes is a big heart.

Photograph of Véronique Bélec holding child next to water project

Photograph: Personal collection of Véronique Bélec

Véronique always wanted to travel to foreign countries and help others, but she didn’t know how to go about it. In 2010, she finally took a leap into the unknown: she started her first humanitarian project. This involved collecting enough material to fill a 40-foot container and then distributing it in villages and orphanages in Togo. In 2011, she successfully completed this dangerous mission with the help of a Library and Archives Canada (LAC) colleague. While there were some discouraging times, Véronique couldn’t forget the many grateful smiles she saw, and she felt the need to do more for the most disadvantaged. Following a brief mission to Mali in 2012, where she upgraded her knowledge with a local NGO that inspired her, she returned to Togo in 2013 to support the three orphanages she had helped a few years earlier. To finance her efforts, she sold her last rental property. Following the recommendations of the people in charge of the orphanages, she had toilets and showers built and renovated a roof, paying for this out of her own pocket and supervising the work herself, in addition to coordinating various medical, educational and food donations for hundreds of children.

In 2014, while taking a university course on international development, she suggested that her team undertake a drinking water project in a village in Benin, to which she travelled at the end of the course to contact experts in the field. She once again found herself facing this challenge alone, needing to raise thousands of dollars.

Still determined to help, but without a penny to her name, Véronique established the De l’eau pour la vie association, which increased her credibility and enabled her to raise more money. She then looked to the media to promote her fundraisers. Many in the media took note, including a columnist from Le Droit, who really helped her project succeed, and a broadcaster from 104.7, who interviewed her on the radio.

In November 2015, after more than a year of intensive fundraising and planning, she carried out two projects to supply drinking water in Benin. “You really need to be in Africa to understand the true importance of water, when you see all the people singing, dancing and shouting with joy because they finally have drinking water in their village.”

Then in 2016, Véronique funded and supported a drinking water project in India, where she trained with an NGO that helps communities become self-sufficient. She now plans to continue with this approach, while still making drinking water a priority. And to ensure that the projects are increasingly useful and sustainable, Véronique is continuing her studies in sustainable development. She is eager to start the next mission and bring smiles to the faces of many people in need.

Véronique started at LAC in July 2007. She is currently the Archival Appraisal and Acquisitions Coordinator, a position she has filled on an acting basis for nearly two years.

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