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Interview with Jocelyn, founder of accesstrip.org

Jocelyn, in a wheelchair since a serious accident in 2001, is at the founder of accesstrip.org. He calls himself a “globeroller” and wants to create an online tool that would help people with reduced mobility with their travels. The main purpose of the website is to share travel information all around the world and facilitate the exchange of wheelchair users about their travel experiences. With Manuel, they decided to create a collaborative online platform. More people joined the organization, Pierre, Aurélie and Adel decided to follow the adventure and contribute to the success of the project. Currently accesstrip.org gathers information for more than 40 different locations around the world and there are more than 50 articles on our blog regarding accessible travels.

Why are you passionate to promote travel?

After I lived through a traumatic experience, I realized the goodness of travelling. I wanted to share my experience with others who might have had a similar experience. During my first travels I faced the lack of information for people with reduced mobility. That is when I decided to improve the information on accessible travel.

Before my accident I already liked to travel, to discover the life of others with their different food and cultures. I was in love with the beautiful landscape. When I had my accident, I thought all of this was finished. That, as a prisoner in my wheelchair, I will only see the world through my television… Today, I just came back from my travels from India where I stayed by myself for more than 3 months!

I was broken, destroyed but travelling helped me to come back and today, I’m happy and see the life full of opportunities. Obviously, I want to share this.

WCT: What has been your richest experience while travelling?

I have been visiting a lot of places and every time I had a lot of very rich experiences. Brasil – Morocco – India: Place where life is hard but at the same time you are surrounded by a lot of kindness.

I lived so many things, short or long, every time with incredible people.

Obviously I have a lot of stories of India in my mind but I want to describe a great experience in Chicago. A couch surfing experience. It was my first travel alone and I came from Boston. I didn’t communicate much with the person who accommodated me, only to ask about the accessibility of her home. I met her and she told me that she lives & works in a big building, which accommodates homeless, musicians, families in trouble. When I arrived she said to me, I could eat in the community kitchen and got the keys to a room, only for me, at the end of the corridor. All of this, for free without even knowing who I was!

During the three days, I felt like part of the community even though I was just a passenger. I left my tourist guide deep in my pack. Being my first solo trip, just thinking about this experience makes me very emotional. This person offered everything. She was a cook and invested in the life of the community, all as a voluntary. She had her little flat in the building, like the others. She dedicated her life to help people. I understood this person was religious and when I left, I told her that I didn’t believe in god but that meeting people like her, made me believe in humanity.

Jocelyn at a TED talk about his life in Rennes, France .

WCT: How do you think can we achieve to motivate more wheelchair travellers to go to places less travelled?

We (people with disability) have a different relation with the people of the countries we travel to. They know perfectly that their place isn’t accessible and most of the time they do not see many foreigners. So when they see a « white » man in wheelchair come to their country and face some difficulties, they are surprised, happy, curious and always try to help.

Once I crossed through a big favela in Rio de Janeiro (the Rocinha), for about 4 hours. All the people greeted me nicely, came to talk with me, and invited me into their life. A lot of children came to hug me. very emotional experience… You feel immense pride to be there, despite all the difficulties (and the are many…do not be mistaken)

These moments that we experience have no price and can’t be lived in other circumstances. In spite of our everyday life, we realise our live is beautifull. If we open our eyes and our heart, we can easily forget our own misfortune and through the memories of our travels it motivates us to go further.

Tags: Activities in a wheelchair, Interview, Travel with a wheelchair

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