Our team

Sandrine Kern, President of Be Voluntary

With Olivier, my husband, we have 2 daughters, twins, Marie and Clémence who are 13 years old. We live in Garéoult, a village located in the heart of Provence Verte in the Var. I have been a school teacher for 22 years, teaching at the Leï Cigalos elementary school in Puget-Ville.

When Gérard, my father, was very seriously ill at the end of last year, he wished that the association Be Voluntary could continue to work and build development projects, after HIM.

A new team was formed within Be Voluntary and I became its president. I’m very happy about it, this new mission within the association has already allowed me to make very enriching encounters, as Dad had predicted.

Links are gradually being built up or strengthened here in France, but also in Ladakh with incredible people that you will soon be able to discover.

A great and beautiful human adventure continues and it is a formidable engine of everyday life…


Jean-Marc Margot, Vice-President of Be Voluntary

“… it was in April 2007… that morning, I took my courage in two hands and dialed 0389……..
“Hello Mr. GISSINGER… this is Jean-Marc Margot. To put it simply, I am preparing for October a sports and solidarity project in Tanzania, you come?”
There follows a long silence which would almost make me regret having considered that… and then Gerard answers me “Margot how to say… you ****** me (and again another long silence). I’ll call you right back tomorrow.
And so, the next day,”Jean-Marc, I’m coming.”
… I didn’t know that during this same period, Gerard had just undergone two complicated shoulder surgeries and that Kilimanjaro’s objective would be the best reeducation for him.

A few months later, it was Yann’s turn to call me:
Hi, it’s Yann. Gerard is retiring, we’re not going to give him a pen and an office set!”
“What do you propose?”
A Be Voluntary association, I take care of the statutes, compose the board and mobilize the scientific community. Try your side of working on a project ”

We carried out this first project in Nepal. At the meeting of associations and foundations such as “Little Princes of Nepal””Umbrella” of decisive meetings: Jacky Buck, Sunita, inhabitants of Gurge, Tibetan community in exile in Bodnath.
In the following years, other major actions followed, such as the financial support to Ani Choying of the first dyalise centre in Katamandu.
We left with Gérard in 2011 in Ladakh in the Marka valley. There we worked on solar installations in the community hall, water purifiers at village entrances to limit the use of plastic.
Latest action to date: support for Caroline Riegel’s projects in Zanskar

So I’m sort of the link between before and after. The upcoming projects are remarkable, exciting, the new team, more than motivated. We’ll talk to you soon.


Yann Chamaillard, Be voluntary secretary

Gerard was my thesis supervisor and much more… From example to mentor, he became a friend and is now one of the two or three most important people in my life. At the time of his retirement, I had the idea of offering him this association without imagining that one day we would be the “heirs” and that we would find ourselves in his office and ready to discover a world still unknown to us: Ladakh.

Cécile Chamaillard, community manager for Be voluntary

At the head of a happy reconstituted tribe (Oceane 18 years old, Louis 18 years old, Titouan 17 years old, Arthur 16 years old and Melen 7 years old), we live in a small village between Blois and Orléans. We both work at the University of Orléans. Yann, a university professor, is director of the IUT and a researcher at the PRISME laboratory, and I am the administrative head of a research laboratory in economics (the LEO).


Thomas Sproesser, Treasurer of Be Voluntary

With my wife Michèle and our two children, Tobias 9 years old and Constance 12 years old, we live in Sundgau, not far from Gérard’s family home.

I met Gerard at the end of the eighties. At that time I wanted to complete my German degree (I am of German origin) with a French DEA. Further study in another European country was still relatively complicated at the time. By a happy combination of circumstances, I came into contact with Gerard, who was, unusual at the time, very much involved in cross-border research projects. He accepted me for a DEA and then a thesis. I liked this period of my life so much that I forgot to go back to Germany.

As Gérard honoured me with his friendship, I was ready when Yann proposed me to join the association when Gérard retired.
The commitment to a solidarity association is new for me and I am always admiring what Gérard, Jean-Marc and the others have been able to do in Ladakh. I am confident that this work that has already been accomplished will guide us to continue on this path with dignity.