Sistema : At “Joyeux-Béarn” the spirit of Monsieur Vincent lives on…

joyeux béarn[Province of France South] The “Joyeux-Béarn” School in Pau has a long history. It was founded in 1863 as an orphanage. On 24 August 1939 the orphanage was recognized as a public utility. In 1960 it became known as “Joyeux-Béarn”… In 1966 the school opened going up to the 6th year. Today, the complex has a nursery and a primary school for about 200 children. The school is part of a network of 120 schools in the VAREF network (Vincentiens Aujourd’hui Réseau Enseignement France – Vincentian Teaching network of France).

The school is run by a dynamic director and team of teachers who quickly came to see the difficulty of violence in their neighborhood. In 2009 an idea surfaced to try children’s philosophy workshops based on the Institute of Philosophical Practice founded by Mr. BRENEBIER ( This adventure proposed to put into words what surrounds us, to help decrease fear and anxiety. Violence is channeled and fades, because everyone is heard and understands what it is that gives the joy of living together.

M. KarouiContinuing to look for innovation the school contacted Mr. KAROUI (; so the youth could come together around music. Since 2002 the conductor of “l’Orchestre de Pau Béarn” ( has been the spearhead of inventiveness. He has helped develop concerts in neighborhoods and musicians even give concerts in homes.

The director contacted “El Sistema France”, an initiative created by José ABREU in Venezuela in 1975. This program believes that music and musical instruments put vulnerable youth in
contact with their own richness. Young people have 10 hours a week with a music educator to play music. ( Some have become great musicians, such as Gustavo DUDAMEL, current conductor of the Orchestra of Los Angeles. ( dudamel

Mr. KAROUI visited the residence of the Daughters of Charity in the heart of the Saragoza area. It was maintained in the midst of urban renewal. The Sisters left there 7 years ago and Mr. KAROUI was so impressed by the residence that he felt it would be the ideal place to found “El Sistema” in Pau. The process began and there are 9 schools that are part of the endeavor. They wanted a school bus service and met the education office about the project. They proposed giving 2 hours a week to begin, provided that homework was finished before any music activities

el sistemaOn February 2nd, Candlemas Day, Mr. KAROUI, conductor, Mr. MORANDO, artistic director for the orchestra, Mrs. OLIVIER, principal of “Joyeux- Béarn” School, Mr. AMULET, school director presented the project to the School Board who approved this wonderful project.

Together let us continue, in this place that has known the tenderness of love in the footsteps of St. Vincent, to provide the momentum in our society that the joy of living together can be reborn.

Best wishes, El Sistema-Pau!

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