A large French wine producer has started a project in collaboration with an association of former professional rugby players. The project provides training and seasonal jobs to refugees in the vineyards of Château Pédesclaux in southwestern France.
An important French wine producer bottling Château Pédesclaux has started a project in collaboration with an association of former professional rugby players to provide training and seasonal jobs in the wine sector. Château Pédesclaux was given the prestigious regional wine classification Grand Cru in 1855 and the vineyards are in the Grands Crus du Bordelais region. The initiative was reported by the UNHCR on March 25.
90 refugees involved in seasonal work
"When Zakaria arrived in France as a refugee from Sudan, he did not imagine his new life would include picking grapes and playing rugby," the statement said, noting that he is one of 90 refugees employed as seasonal workers by Château Pédesclaux, in southwest France. The workers provide a vital service to an industry that suffers from a labour shortage at harvest time.
"I have found a job, my children are in school. I feel safe here," Zakaria said.
Known for its wines and being the heart of French rugby, this region of France has now taken in refugees. The association Ovale Citoyen, an association that uses rugby and other sports as a way of promoting team-building and inclusion, has offered seasonal work to people in need, including refugees, in a project called "Drop in the Fields" since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, which offers labor to farm owners.
Ultimate goal is inclusion
"The employment potential in the vineyards is huge. Viticulture, like everyone else in agriculture, has a shortage of labor and this lack has been exponential since the COVID crisis began," said the association's founder, Jean François Puech.
"Ninety refugees helped bring in the grapes during the harvest or vendage. A further 15 took part in training for other jobs in viticulture, such as tractor driving, which offer the possibility of year-round employment," the statement noted.
The ultimate goal is inclusion, the project managers say. Association founders Jean-François Puech and Christian Lacini say their motto is: "Whatever a person's origin, religion, sexual orientation or even their history, every human has the right to happiness."