A Compass That Points in the Right Direction Previous item Crime Doesn’t Pay Next item 10 Good Reasons to Choose...

A Compass That Points in the Right Direction

As part of our ongoing efforts to highlight the strengths of Northern Valleys Alternative Measures (MAVN), we are continuing our series of articles to introduce you to the team. This week, let’s meet Mathieu Durivage, who is currently on vacation/paternity leave.

MAVN : Mathieu Durivage, you are one of the socio-judicial workers on the MAVN team, for the services REPAIR Together and ENGAGE Together. What does your job involve?

Mathieu : It’s simple and complex at the same time. I accompany people through a restorative justice process. This involves both victims and offenders, whether they are teenagers or adults. This means allowing each person to express their needs and experiences. For some, it means starting their healing process. For others, it is about repairing the harm they have caused and turning a new leaf.

MAVN : That sounds exciting! At the same time, when it comes to people who are victims or offenders, there must have been a crime. Isn’t that a bit stressful? You seem to be a very calm young man!

Mathieu : In principle, I am a calm person, I need to be. At the same time, I know that I have an anxious personality, even if it doesn’t seem so. It’s mainly the anticipation that stresses me out. The period before I take action. Then, when the machine is up and running, I regain my composure.

MAVN : The important thing is to have a certain peace of mind in the presence of the people you accompany.

Mathieu : Exactly. If I let myself go, I would be tiring for the others, because I would show many signs of stress! Among other things, I tend to pace around, stomp around. It’s as if I have a surplus of energy before I face what’s ahead. But it serves as motivation to act.

MAVN : Speaking of motivation, what led you to become an intervener? How did you come to choose this vocation?

Mathieu : Basically, I always knew that I would evolve into social affairs. I already grew up with good models of commitment. My father used to prepare Christmas baskets, he tried to help. And my mother was a real activist, passionate about social justice. I have a lot to live up to!

MAVN : So you had some good influences during your youth. But sometimes children prefer to avoid being inspired by their parents’ choices.

Mathieu : It’s true. Even I have asked myself: why not do something else that pays better? For example, if I became a salesman, I would make a lot more money! But when I think about it, it doesn’t make sense, I would be unhappy. There is a kind of moral compass in me which takes up a lot of space. I have the ability to help people, and I feel a kind of obligation to do so. I really need to feel useful.

MAVN : That’s very interesting, it sounds like a vocation. And do you think it comes from the influence of your parents?

Mathieu : Probably partly, but not only that. It’s also a question of social awareness as opposed to individualism. If I lived my life only for myself, I think I wouldn’t reach my full potential.

MAVN : Is it a kind of saviour complex?

Mathieu : I wouldn’t say that. To me, it’s more like a mission in life. A calling that I feel.

MAVN : Something that pushes you to act, in the end.

Mathieu : That’s exactly it. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but it makes me think of my favourite superhero, Spiderman. He is a fictional character who has always inspired me. He’s almost an anti-hero because he has such a hard life. But he can’t stop himself from acting because compassion, solidarity and humanity prevail over discomfort. Far be it from me to compare myself to a superhero, but I feel the same need to act, on my own scale.

MAVN : In other words, it’s a character that serves as your inspiration.

Mathieu : Exactly. And I like the idea that he wears a mask. To me, it’s a strong symbol of humility. In an ideal world, altruism would be practiced with one’s face covered. We shouldn’t take advantage of having been generous.

MAVN : At the same time, there is nothing wrong with highlighting good deeds, is there?

Mathieu : To be honest, I sometimes have a little trouble taking compliments. It goes back to what I call my moral compass. When it guides us, wanting to help our fellow man should be a matter of course.

MAVN : You seem deeply convinced that you are following the right path. Do you feel that you are fulfilled at work?

Mathieu : Clearly, yes. We always have to listen to each other, and I’ve learned to trust myself in that respect. The non-verbal tells us a lot. Then we have to adapt to each person, to each need. Moreover, at MAVN, I like the autonomy we are given in the choice of interventions. After all, we don’t really work with offenders or victims: we accompany people first.

MAVN : I get the impression that you manage to create a bond quickly with the people you accompany.

Mathieu : In general, I think so. The fact that I am still young certainly helps. But it’s also a question of tolerance and acceptance. To accompany people in a restorative justice process, you have to look beyond the offences or criminal acts. Often, offences are a way of sending us a message, of telling us something. For example, I need help. Or even simpler: I exist!

MAVN : A message that you have to know how to hear and decode. It can’t always be easy. How can you do it?

Mathieu : It’s true, it’s not always obvious. To achieve this, I try to keep my feet on the ground, to preserve my own inner peace. That’s why I like archery so much. When I practice, I take a deep breath, I connect with my environment, I immerse myself in it. Immediately my mind goes blank, it’s very soothing, almost therapeutic.

MAVN : Presented like that, we’d all like to start!

Mathieu : I recommend it. What counts is finding the activity that calms us, that brings us back to the fundamental. For a while, in my case, it was also music, or Parkour. Sometimes it’s just writing. For others, it’s golf, cycling, the arts. The important thing is to find a certain balance.

MAVN : Speaking of balance, I know yours has been shaken up a bit recently as a new dad! How has this new life experience changed you? Has it changed the person you are at work?

Mathieu : It’s impossible not to change after something so great! Before becoming one, I didn’t really have an idea of what it was like to become a father. To go back to my common thread, I would say that it has revived my moral compass. Despite the fatigue and lack of sleep, my compass has a new energy.

MAVN : This is a really exciting time in your life.

Mathieu : The reflection that comes to me is this: I feel small, but I have big ideas.

MAVN : That’s very touching! That’s what happens when your compass points in the right direction. Thank you, Mathieu!

Add Comment