Jessica Sapia, Association Secretary
ML: Can you give us some background about Les Enfants de Frankie?
JS: The association was created in 1997 to help children from in and around Monaco suffering from severe illnesses, and various disabilities. Frankie is a clown who comforts to children in need.
ML: Can you give us some key facts and figures?
JS: The association receives requests from about 20,000 children per year via more than 200 structures (Social Services, Medical Education Institutes, Hospitals …) and relies on more than 100 volunteers and over 350 members per year.
Every year, the association organises Frankie’s Christmas for thousands of children, about 50 outings and workshops, some 20 specific projects and around ten residential group trips.
ML: What activities do you organize for children during the year?
JS: We visit hospitals in the region. Our volunteers read to bedridden children, play games or arrange small creative workshops.
We have more or less the same annual program, focusing on the events of the Principality, such as the Circus Festival, New Generation, Rolex Tennis Masters, Formula 1 Grand Prix, Football Matches, the Film Festival. We also try to innovate, for example, through sports events like tennis, volleyball, rugby, or through educational outings – visits to the Lerins islands, outings with themed workshops (say, the protection of the environment), on sail boats, or to botanical gardens …
ML: What are the association’s main fundraising events?
JS: Our annual Charity Night – “Kids Nite” – invites families in Monaco and the region to take part in a gala evening specially organised for their children. This year, this takes place December 16.
Monaco Red Nose Day (which was December 6) encourages the townspeople and workers in our Principality and neighboring towns to buy a Red Nose to show their support for children in need in our region. These are both held under the High Patronage of HSH Prince Albert.
Generous benefactors also make occasional donations or become partners by actively participating in one of our events.
ML: I read that the association bought a minibus for the psychiatry and autism service at the Antibes-Juan-Les-Pins hospital. How are funds spent?
JS: The funds raised during donations or our annual Gala Evening help cover the costs of our different events and activities, such as:
– Frankie’s Christmas, an annual show with gifts and a tea party for thousands of children.
– Specific projects, like bathroom renovations for children with severe disabilities.
– Playground facilities for children placed in a home for their protection.
– Equestrian therapy activity for children with autism.
– A vegetable garden for sick and disabled children.
– Tickets for outings to the Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival, for example, or a helicopter flight, Farm Day, etc.
– Workshops on biodiversity, respect for the environment and recycling as part of the United Nations Programme on sustainable development.
ML: Can you tell us a little more about the creation and implantation of the Child’s Rights Fountain in the Principality?
JS: The Universal Child’s Rights Fountain, which is set in the landscaped grounds of Fontvieille, was inaugurated on November 20, 2000, by Prince Albert II as part of the Second Day of Human Rights of the Child. Made of travertine marble by Italian sculptor Franco Maschio, it was offered to Monaco by the Association Les Enfants de Frankie. The clown character is the ideal metaphor to address both children and adults as it is apolitical and does not distinguish between races and religions. The clown is surrounded by five children, a symbol of the five continents, and the water, the ultimate symbol of life, flows over a plaque on which the Rights of the Child are engraved, and stones signed by 40 of Monaco’s celebrities.
ML: There’s also something called a Dream Mission?
JS: This magnificent project took the team and sponsors a whole year to make the dreams of 56 hospitalised children come true. The dreams of these children, from the simplest to the most extravagant, ranged from a wish for a box of paints or a football to meeting a Formula 1 driver or football player in Brazil, and from meeting the Sovereign Prince in his Palace to simply seeing Santa Claus’ reindeer in Iceland. Some were even able to the other side of the world on a safari or watch the shooting of the film “Dinotopia”.
ML: Frankie also has 12 renowned Ambassadors, one for every month of the year?
JS: Frankie has appealed to the generosity of twelve illustrious women known around the world, with their 12 foundations in 12 different countries, to help him carry out a major project for chldren. For example, a circus in Africa, a magical day in a Princess’ Palace, or videoed school courses for bedridden children.
ML: Can you tell us about the association’s structure membership?
JS: The association has been recognised as an NGO since 2008 and has the Consultative Status of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is made up of a team of five people, our Founding President and volunteer, Mrs Francien Giraudi, our volunteer accountant and three full-time employees. We also have some 50 volunteers in the field. Members, who share the values of the association, are the soul of the association and with their annual subscription and their commitment we can continue our actions and regularly offer children new outings. And, of course, people can make a donation without becoming a member, either through our website or by post.
ML: Does the association need volunteers?
JS: As we are offering more and more activities, we are always looking for new volunteers, either for our weekly outings, or for the organisation of our major humanitarian events such as Frankie’s Noel, which requires more than 80 volunteers. To become a volunteer, you do not need to be a member, it can be done by contacting the office or by filling out the registration form on our website, under “volunteering”.
For more, see Les Enfants de Frankie website.
Article first published on December 14, 2016.