Le Village Gaulois (MEEM) (FR)

The “Village Gaulois (MEEM)” serves humanitarian purposes. It is managed by the MEEM association and allocates each year 60% of its benefit of July and August to development aid’s actions in favour of the rural populations of the north of the Togo. In 1967, the war in Biafra, Nigeria upsets a teenager who pledges to help when adult.

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In 1983, the society MEEM is founded and two years later, some land is bought. From 1986 onward, for a decade the site was full of construction activities by young volunteers. Slowly activities were introduced to raise money for school projects in Togo. If the Gallic village is at first glance an amusement park it is also a place dealing with history and a place for information on the ill development in Africa. There is a playground, an area presenting the Gaul life and an area dedicated to the action in Africa.

The Gaul area informs about salt production and for example moving megaliths. The time depth is from the Neolithic Age up until the Iron Age and activities include production of flour, making ropes, et cetera. You will discover the common history of cairns and dolmens, their construction techniques, all done in collaboration with archaeologists and historians. Three films: Love in the Time of the Gauls, salt production, the erection of a menhir are shown in the various huts.

The space devoted to action in Africa with a collection of African huts and a school is separate from the village to avoid the confusion of genres. It is located on the plateau overlooking the village. If the Gallic village has 200 visitors daily on average they are ten times as many (2500 students) to attend school every day at the MEEM-Carto schools in Togo.

The whole museum is on two hectares and is run by 4 full timers, seven in july and august. There are also some volunteers, especially scouts. There are 60.000 visitors a year, including school groups.

The great hall was built in 2001 and here you can have crepes and pancakes, you can drink brown Armorica beer brown, a worthy descendant of good old ale. In the great hall, a conventional oven is used in summer in addition to grinding grain, where children can learn to make wafers. To start, one buys 50 grams of wheat, goes to a grain mill and gets advice for making flour. This is followed by all stages, from grinding to baking. After twenty minutes of cooking, the child leaves with his cake he enjoyed, remembering the wheat grains he had held in his hands at the start.

There is also a game with cereals on display: nine types of cereal are shown - and before each plate bearing his name should be placed. If the plate fits into the slot in the cereal, you win. A game popular with adults and very educational for children who have very limited knowledge of cereals.

The dwelling house measures 19m x 9m. Amidst this huge house covered with 12 tons of cane you will find a table that can accommodate fifty guests framing a central hearth which mounts the evening banquet. Can you already imagine the smoke, heat and smells of well roasted pig?

The salt production workshop is the faithful reconstruction of a workshop discovered in 1995 on the common-Pleumeur Bodou by a team led by archaeologist Mary Yvane DAIRE LANGOËT, research fellow at CNRS. At his request and under his leadership, the workshop has been built to meet the demand of schools. Experiments are sometimes conducted.

The stone site in its external appearance, is a replica of a partially dismantled Cairn. One can observe the presence of large stones forming the burial chambers of the monument stones after the dismantling of the historic sites have remained in place and constitute what is called "dolmens". The Labyrinth is the internal part that has more to do with the historical work but who enjoys a huge space to develop its two hundred and fifty feet of galleries on two floors.

Erected to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Gallic village in 1996, the long stone menhir weighing thirteen tons was hauled an entire afternoon and built with the help of nearly four hundred arms. The ropes were woven on the spot. A film with a duration of thirteen minutes evokes the event in its technical aspect.

The path of our roots is an educational game linking the African space and the cairn at the end of our prehistory. This game teaches us about our distant African roots and all the steps that led our species to the great agricultural revolution of the Neolithic and technical.

The other area is the “African Space”. In the savannah plateau, you can play a game. It evokes the work of development workers who build in Africa or elsewhere wells, bridges, schools, clinics et cetera. The rule is to think carefully before undertaking for not doing more harm than good.

Installed on the African space, the game of “the school for good children” suggests a bush class where, notoriously, the children are very wise, even in the absence of the master. It is a large tray of twenty square meters representing a classroom equipped with four benches that can accommodate twenty children. The tray is hinged at its center and with a central mast perpendicular to the plate. Along the mast slides a circle that must never touch the pole. The mast is graded from 1 to 10 top to bottom. Children, moving on their bench trying to get the vertical mast to mark the maximum points by lowering the circle along the mast. “The way to school” is a model representing a village of three houses, a school, a creek and a bridge. The players are two in number, representing two partners in a development project, namely, the bush schools funded by the Gallic village. The partners of these schools have a duty to coordinate their actions, their movements to drive the maximum number of children in the school. In homes, balls are lying which resemble the children not at school. In the school where the partners must lead the "children", a trap keeps children in school, two other doors leading sanctioning poor coordination girls forced to marry, and boys in the work field.

Finally, a reconstructed bush school is shown, divided in two. The first half represents the traditional classroom with benches and logs; poor materials. The other class is equipped with funds contributed by the Gallic village. However, it is clear that the essential thing is in the traditional classroom, i.e. the willingness of villagers to have a school.

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