Georges Christen: Caritas Luxembourg's strongman
Thursday 26 January 2023
For 16 years, Georges Christen, the strongest man in Luxembourg, known for his world records, trained people living in precariousness and exclusion. At the end of December, he retired, happy to have been able to pass on some of his strength to people who are trying to rebuild their lives.
What did you do at Caritas Luxembourg?
I was in charge of the Rebuilding project, which enables people living in precariousness and exclusion to regain their self-esteem through physical training activities. About a hundred people participate in the project every year.
How did the project come about?
I wanted to help others by doing what I do best. It was the artist Michèle Schumacher who directed me to the Centre Ulysse. She was already in contact with Caritas Luxembourg for other activities. Caritas Luxembourg immediately responded favourably to my project. Sport is good for the mind. At the beginning, the training was once a week. Then we tripled the offer. The demand for training was great and so was the solidarity: we received many donations of equipment and were able to count on the generosity of some sponsors such as the company Guy Rollinger, whom I would like to thank warmly. I would also like to thank all those who contributed to the project. I am thinking in particular of Albert Nimax who has assisted me for the last ten years as a volunteer. Thank you!
What does sport do for people living in poverty?
People who come out of training tell me that they feel better in the head: "Ech hunn de Kapp méi kloer". That makes me happy. The aim is not to train them to become athletes, but to give them time off, away from their worries. Through sport, people also find a certain discipline and energy to better face problems, and above all, self-esteem, which is important to regain a foothold in society.
What are your best memories?
I have many. I'm particularly happy when former participants come to see me after a few months or years of absence and I find it hard to recognise them because they have changed so much and their situation has improved. Many of them still train, but in real fitness centres this time. I am glad that they can now go to the same centres as the rest of society.
Were there also more difficult moments?
I must say no. In 16 years, there has not been a single fight between the participants. Of course, there are sometimes arguments, but it has never gotten out of hand. It has to be said that there is a solidarity during training that doesn't usually exist in the street: people help each other lift weights, do certain exercises or show how the machines work. You would expect a certain competition, but no.
What will happen to the project now that you are retired?
Thanks to funding from the Oeuvre Grand-Duchesse Charlotte we have been able to recruit Gabriela Inchaurraga who is a sports instructor. Her objective in the ACTIVATE project is to develop the sports offer for people living in precariousness and exclusion by proposing, in addition to weight training, courses such as soft gymnastics, zumba, capoeira, etc. for a wider public, less attracted by weight training. There is a lot to be done and I am happy that the succession is assured. I'll still be coming as a volunteer to help lift weights during the weight training sessions because, for safety reasons, there has to be someone who can lift even heavier weights than those lifted by the participants, and it has to be said that the Rebuilding participants are STRONG! Well done to you all! Keep training!
Thank you Georges!
At the beginning of January, Nonna Sehovic took over the new department " Politiques et Stratégies - Caritas Imp'ACT " of Caritas Luxembourg.
Fatima Nunes took over the management of human resources at Caritas Luxembourg at the beginning of January. The HR challenges are numerous, but she is not intimidated.