Living in comfort in France never hinders a Filipina from lending a helping hand to her fellow Filipinos who are in dire need in Paris and even back home.
Mary Jane Souterre, who hails from Aklan, began helping hapless Filipinos in 2013, when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the most powerful storm that struck the disaster-prone Philippines that year, unleashed its fury in most parts of the Visayan region, including her hometown.
In November 2013, Souterre founded Coeurs à Coeurs, a charitable foundation that initially aims to improve the quality of life of victims of natural disasters in the Philippines.
Coeurs à Ceours eventually expanded into a profit association that also extends help to Filipino migrants who are victims of modern slavery in France.
Souterre, 62, is married to Patrick. They have two children, 34-year-old Kevin and 30-year-old Tifanny, who now both have successful careers.
She has a big heart for Filipinos because she also experienced the same before living a good life with her husband and two children in Paris.
Souterre, the eldest female and third oldest of 10 siblings, was unable to finish high school since she came from a poor family.
But even if life was then cruel for her when she was still in Aklan, Souterre stayed a steadfast and persevering woman.
In 1979, she met Patrick while she was vacationing at the world-famous Boracay Island in Malay town in Aklan. Four years after, they decided to stay in France for good where she strived hard to live a comfortable life.
While in France, Souterre opened her home to neglected Filipinos.
Souterre’s Coeurs à Ceours, based on its official Facebook page, also took the initiative to launch the “Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut)” program, which intends to help Filipinos residing and working in France.
Coeurs à Ceours also offered a skills-building program for Filipino migrants in France.
Dubbed as “Ate Jane,” Souterre has been receiving high regard not only from Filipinos whom he had helped one way or another but from other nationalities as well.
Her acts of kindness and compassion have helped her earn recognition after bagging the “Global Pinoy Idol” award from Manila-based ABS-CBN Corp. in London, the United Kingdom on Nov. 17, 2018.
“Global Pinoy Idol” was organized by ABS-CBN’s official AM radio station dzMM, in partnership with its international arm, The Filipino Channel, to pay tribute to overseas Filipinos who exhibit benevolence that makes a difference to the lives of other people.
Despite her achievements, Souterre continues to help unfortunate Filipinos in France, and those in vulnerable and marginalized communities in the Philippines.
Apart from typhoon victims, those who were affected by a series of deadly earthquakes that shook Mindanao last year also received aid from Souterre’s Coeurs à Ceours.
Coeurs à Ceours also continued to give assistance to the Aeta community in Central Luzon.
Indeed, comfortable life will never stop kind-hearted persons like Souterre from being a blessing to others. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)