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From Iran to Marseilles: blazing a trail and giving old stones a new life

In Iran, Mahnaz was a sports teacher. When she arrived in France without speaking fluent French, the French job center referred her to the Actavista work sites. It’s an association that uses heritage sites in need of restoration as a lever for training and qualification. On the Fort Saint-Nicolas site in Marseilles, Mahnaz is learning how to speak French and how make lime-wash and lay tiling or insulation. She’s also learning to make the link with the traditional techniques her grandparents used in her home country. This training has taken Mahnaz to new heights, as she wants to make her career as a steeplejack, has set her sights high and is even planning to take up her studies at university again.

From Iran to Marseilles: blazing a trail and giving old stones a new life

Pâquerette Demotes-Mainard:
Actavista is an association created in 2002 with the aim of using endangered historical heritage as a lever for training and qualifying people who are in a situation of economic and social precariousness in the territories.

Mahnaz Abbasi:
In Iran, my birth country, I was a sports engineer and a sports teacher. Here in France I didn't know what I could do, whether I wanted to get a different job or not. 

I've been thinking about it for two years, I met steeplejacks, they talked to me about their work and I liked it. It is an outdoor job, done high up, manual. I wanted to work on old buildings.

Samira Louragh:
Mahnaz was sent to us through Pôle emploi. It was a real discovery for her, she had no professional project when she arrived and she was facing several problems, especially in terms of driving licence and linguistics because she did not express herself as she expresses herself today. 

Actavista funded her steeplejack training. She’s been with us for ten months and it has really been a great success.

We're going to put the spirit level like this and check the bubble, we have to be right in the middle.

Mahnaz Abbasi:
We learned to build the walls, plaster, tiling, shuttering, insulation, it's my favorite… My grandfather’s house was built with materials that we currently use for insulation, earth and hemp. Maybe that's why I like it, it runs deep in our family.

Ooh it's good! We did it !

I have two projects. The first, I achieved, I am a steeplejack who works on old buildings. And the second is that I would like to resume my studies at university in maybe five to six years.