How Fedner became a social mediator


Fedner Vilsaint is one of the six interns recognized on November 30 during the Greta Afterwork that took place at the Beach Hotel. This is because he not only passed the final exam for his training as a social mediator, but also finished as valedictorian of his class.

Originally from Haiti, Fedner, 39, grew up in Guadeloupe before arriving at Saint-Martin in 2003 with €300 in his pocket and a technical diploma (BEP/CAP) in metal welding. "I couldn’t find work there. Since my brother had recently started living on the island, I also wanted to take my chances here," he remembers. After a few little jobs, in 2004 he was hired as a caretaker in Terres Basses where he moved with his wife. But when their second child was born nearly ten years later, their home was too small and Fedner had no other choice but to resign. Four months of fruitless job searches later, he decided to leave for the mainland, where he has family. (In 2011, he obtained his diploma as a heavy vehicle driver after completing a training at FORE IDN.) But that meant that he needed to leave behind his wife, who worked at Le Manteau de Saint-Martin. Finally, in 2013, Father Charles, the former director of the current CHRS (Center for Housing and Social Reintegration), offered to hire him as a mediator with the goal of training him in.

"Before accepting, I did some research into the career. I discovered that it suited me perfectly, given my personality." He was thus recruited with a CUI (Single Contract and Insertion) and began welcoming the association’s users, resolving conflicts, appeasing small tensions, preventing them from speaking to each other badly, teaching them about drugs and alcohol, collecting information, and sending that information to his colleagues...

In February 2016 he began training in "Mediation, Information and Service" at the Saint-Martin Greta, funded by the Fongecif. Nearly a year later, the man his employers called a "super element" has been back at work for several weeks with increased confidence. "Personally and professionally, the training taught me many things about how to approach people in my work, as well as in life in general. I realized that I already had listening skills, respect of confidentiality, and trust. I get along well with users, since I have been through difficulties as well, and I can understand what they are feeling."

During the ten-month training, Fedner completed three internships: at Sandy Ground on The Move, at the CLSPD (local department of safety and delinquency prevention) and the Soualiga Middle school. For the rest of the time, he had class every day. Out of the fifteen initial interns, only eight completed the program. "Finishing as valedictorian was a surprise for me, even though I know that I worked hard," he confesses. Returning to school is not easy as an adult who has been leading an active life for a long time. He recognizes that it was difficult at the beginning. "But I discovered a passion for learning different communication techniques, both verbal and non-verbal. They also help me in my personal life, particularly when distancing myself from certain situations."

For the moment, Fedner is working on several projects in Manteau. He plans to gain experience, then to continue his training to specialize in one particular branch. We don’t yet know which one. 

Photo: the top six in the class (mediator, librarian, security officer, receptionist, extracurricular leader, team leader) were congratulated by Michel Sanz, Janine Hamlet, and Roger Annerose on November 30. 

Fanny Fontan