Posted by: pascoesabido | February 28, 2008

Snow but no Skiing – supporting a family from a ski-resort

Article written for my Print Journalism MA application at City University – it got me an interview:

In the corner of a small kitchen in Val d’Isere, France, two men defy the alcoholic, hedonistic image of ski-resort workers.

Originally from Comore, a small island within La Reunion, Abdu Lgafour, 34 and Amir Ahamada , 31 have left their families in Marseille to eke out a living; Although they both hold work visas, neither earns very much; resort earnings often fall short of the minimum wage as employers know staff will sacrifice a good salary to ski.

As all earnings are sent home and expenditure kept to a minimum, skiing is an unaffordable luxury. Now in his eighth season, Abdu has yet to ski. Amir spends any time not at work sleeping or watching television, avoiding the inflated resort prices: “I’m here to earn, not spend”.

This is not just a season-long job, but an all-year-round slog. Both men sacrifice much to keep their families fed. They have wives and young children at home, but go for months without seeing them. Amir only just made the birth of his two-month-old baby boy Djelan, while Abdu has missed both the first steps and words of his 14-month-old daughter, Samira.

Neither man sees the lengths they go to as extraordinary; just necessary. Marseille holds few employment prospects, even for qualified chefs such as Abdu, while Amir adds to the thousands of unqualified job-seekers. At least here they are able to provide for their families.

So while the debauchery continues around them, these two men quietly go about their business, out-of-sight, and for most, out-of-mind.



  1. I found this a very quiet, humble yet profound piece of writing. I like the way its set in a kitchen corner, as if pre dinner prep rush. Very strong imagery.

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