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Blog > Postcrossing Spotlight: poissonrouge from Guinea!


Madeleine (aka poissonrouge) is a Swiss teacher and the only postcrosser in Guinea (not to be confused with Guinea-Bissau or Equatorial Guinea). She has done a remarkable job of putting her adopted country on our map, by sending over 400 postcards from there… though this isn’t an easy job, as you will read on her interview!

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I was reading a book in English, and I stumbled upon a new word for me: swap. To fully understand what a swap was, I googled it, and that’s how I discovered this postcards swapping project. I immediately loved the concept and I registered and sent my first cards at once. Now I really know what a swap is! :-)

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Raising hens!

Poissonrouge's hens

Some time ago, I received three beautiful Senegalese hens. Now I am looking for a Senegalese rooster, to start a small breeding. After a couple of months, I shall be able to train other women to do it too.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

There are no mail carriers in Guinea, and hardly a few post offices.

Every week, my friends in Conakry fetch my post. They put it in a blue metal suitcase, and give the suitcase to a bus driver who drives the 600 km to Kissidougou once a week. The driver gives it to another friend in Kissidougou, and I go fetch it on my motorcycle. I am always eager to open it, as I never know what will be inside. Postcards and letters for me and my colleagues of course, among other gifts from friends everywhere in Guinea, as we have several suitcases travelin the whole country.

The blue suitcase

And when I want to send cards (that is, every week), I put them in the same blue suitcase, and it goes back to Conakry.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

It’s not about this very card specifically, but I collect cards about rice and cards about fields, so no wonder I cherish every rice field card.

Rice is the main food in Guinea: no rice, no life. I think seeing rice fields of different countries (or rice grains, or rice dishes), is very interesting. My Guinean friends love to see them too. They are amazed at this card especially, because a machine is doing all the work. In Guinea, men and women do all the work, sometimes with oxen. Here you have the harvest, Guinean style:

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

My mother joined Postcrossing too some time after me, and then my sister. Unfortunately my sister stopped when she opened her own surgery. That was too already much work.

I tried to convince people in Guinea, but it’s very hard: sending a card costs what a poor family needs to eat for one day. And richer people misunderstand it as… a global dating service :-)

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I am passionate about my job. I love all aspects of it (apart from accountancy). It could be called “helping people, especially women, to get self sufficient”. Training literacy teachers and trainers, writing or translating booklets in the Kissi language, teaching French and African literature, teaching how to make medical ointments or beauty creams, sewing, baking, … there are many useful things to do here.

But of course now with the ebola epidemic, I put all my strength in the fight against this disease. So instead of writing booklets about the medical uses of the papaya, it’s all about preventing ebola.

64 comments so far

inki1963, Germany

Thank you for this interessant story

Tarzy, Netherlands

Amazing, I hope my card will be in that blue suitcase one day!

kthrina, Chile

Awesome !!!

ravioli22, Germany

Amazing story about an amazing woman doing amazing work there! Thanks for sharing this way of life and all the best to keep up your good work (and with the hens ;-))
And always nice postcards in the blue suitcase ;D

vuky91, Croatia

Nice story, with postcrossing one still can believe is in touch with whole world. In real, not virtually... If Madeleine accepts private swaps let her inform me, and I will gladly send a postcard from Croatia! Have a nice day and blue metal box full of postcards! ;)

anettespostcards, Sweden

Very interesting, thanks for sharing with us.

Broe, Germany

Great interview! I'm especially touched by this part: "They are amazed at this card especially, because a machine is doing all the work. In Guinea, men and women do all the work, sometimes with oxen." I'd hope they'll have a chance to get help by machines someday.

SusanRae, United States of America

Very nice story! Kudos to Madeleine for persevering in her work and even taking on new activities: good luck with the chickens! I wish her all the best and the best of health, especially as she takes on Ebola. Her observations of the people and the journey her mail takes are fascinating.

droptravels, Germany

Thank you for this amazing interview the blue suitcase alone is an amazing information. I hope Madeleine gets her rooster and many more postcards telling the worlds rice story. really special.

mlandman, Netherlands

I received a card from Madeleine two years ago, and it only took 11 days to reach me in the Netherlands!

Luziaceleste, Brazil

Madeleine, you do deserve a lot of respect. Your life is full of sense. Sharing your battle to keep swaping makes me feel ashamed when I claim over Brazilian lazy Mail system.. Thanks for sharing your joy. It is quite inspiring!

dosankodebbie, Japan

Inspiring interview! I remember when I first learned the word "swap" too. What a long time ago that was. Thank you for sharing your story, Madeleine.

supercmonkez, United States of America

Love the story! Very inspirational! Thanks for sharing.

AnnetteB, Germany

Many thanks and big hugs for this wonderful story <3 I was in different African countries for several times (owned a roundhouse in Senegal) and know who the life goes on there, so with this interview I could "see" the way the blue suitcase takes :) It´s so lovely! I wish Madeleine a suitcase full of happiness :))))

YiliLoh, Malaysia

Thanx for sharing the nice story! :)

ankehelene, Germany

I always like the SPOTLIGHTS!! Thank you and greetings to Guinea!

Vandaag, Netherlands

Thank you for sharing this inspiring story with us! All the best to you :)

Zimany, Switzerland

Thank you very much for this interesting spotlight. I was wondering where Madeleine gets her postcards from? Does she make them herself?
On our recent trip to Zimbabwe we found postcards really hard to find, which is no surprise considering that also there, the cost of a postcard and sending it abroad equals what most Zimbabweans have per day to sustain their families (Postcard: 2 US$, postage: 1 US$; roughly the same as here in Switzerland). It made me feel humbled to learn that my little daily pastime is an absolute luxury in these parts of the word...

edo, Spain


Dadiva, Russia

I am glad I came across this interview. Now I know a least something about one more country - Guinea. Thanks to Madeleine, a brave and life-loving woman!

Gogge1, Denmark

Great Intetview. And many Greetings to Madeleine. You gives a great view of your country. Super

allyy__08, United Kingdom

what a lovely interview! i hope that i will be lucky enough to receive a postcard from you, and that i would be able to send you one from Scotland! :)

ipuenktchen, Iran

hi, dear, nice to hear again from you, great to hear you are still there!!! really great! and I hope for you and the country it will be successfull in future, for ebola and the ppl there!!!

rosenbusch, Germany

An interesting story, thank you for sharing....

jarezien, France

Your life, Madeleine, is very different from the ones we have here and it is wonderful to read how you live in Guinea. It makes me remind that life is not so easy and every little single things here can be a great challenge elsewhere. Wonderful interview, thank you a lot.

zomertje, Netherlands

Loved the story, greetings Anné

velitastamber, Indonesia

Very inspiring ! Nice job :)

CDNLib, Canada

This is the very reason that I love being a part of this wonderful project -- learning a little bit about this big, wonderful world we live in! Madeleine, you are an inspiration to the rest of us. Thank you for sharing your story!!

aberline, Australia

What an amazing postcrosser! Postcrossing crosses all boundaries.

iMariaL, Finland

This is amazing story and it really opened my eyes to appreciate postcrossing even more. I love learning more about other countries, cultures and people and your story Madeleine truly inspired me.

pucky, Netherlands

Such a wonderful story about your life and the circumstances. I do admire your work, it is so very needed!
I wish you all you need to get on with it in the happy way that you are dong it now!
Hope to send you/get from you a card someday!

Blogger, United States of America

Thank you for sending postcards from your country! This was a great article :D

sinta, Indonesia

Hello Madeleine, nice to see you here, thanks for sharing! ;) Hugs from shinta <3<3<3

ovidius, Romania

I recently got one of her cards (in a "used cards RR" swap, from a USA user).

Harsha_YG, India

Its a amazing story . Thank you for your passion and support towards Postcrossing !

suegie, South Africa

This was such an interesting story. How we easily forget the many privileges we take for granted. Keep up the good work you are doing there in that country and I do hope the Ebola crisis is being held under control. Such a sad disease to have affected so many people.God Bless.

mapa, Belgium

Hope I get your adress one day. Will do my very best to find something with rice! Love the story of the blue box.

Went to buy stamps today and felt a little guilty. I thought this was food for ten days for some people...

Keep up the good work!

OnTheMoon, Italy

Thanks for sharing this awesome story!

AutismMom, United States of America

This fabulous story perfectly illustrates the power of Postcrossing. I love it! Thank you for sharing, Madeleine. You are an inspiration.

fisherman, Ireland

What a wonderful story Madeleine. You have made us all think of how difficult it can be in different parts of the world.

Roaming_Cat, Belarus

I was surprised at how expensive postcards and stamps are in Africa - in Belarus, a much wealthier country, I send my postcards via air mail, and stamps come at about 60 cents (they can be cheaper if you choose regular mail). And you can find postcards for about 25 cents if you don't stick to a particular subject. So the African prices are really strange to me. Does anyone know the reason behind this?

ned44440, Ireland

Amazing, awe-inspiring and humbling. I wish you all the very best with your very healthy looking hens and with every project you undertake.

squino, Italy

I had the pleasure to write you a card, I'm glad to read again about you: your activity is inspiring. Merci

Nandi108, Germany

Very intersting,I´m happy that I won your lottery!

cri1969, Italy

I love this story and hope one of my postcard will be in that blue suitcase one day! ciao

chrissybaby, Ireland

Wonderful interesting story to read - your life is so much different from this part of the world. And I remember receiving a card from you as well - it was a wonderful surprise!

Geminiscp, Portugal

Amazing story, thanks for sharing! And try to convince more people to join Postcrossing there! :)

eisus, United States of America

I just read your story. It makes me very Thankful for what I have. God Bless you and your work. I hope I get to send you a post card someday. Smiles and Happiness to you and the ones you help. Susan, Colorado

russianivan, Russia

What an amazing story! Many blessings to you!

noranora, Latvia

Wonderful story -I wish you all the best in your work! Hope some day to send or recieve card!

trinitydu33, France

A wonderful story, thank you for your sharing

ericdeng, Taiwan

Wow, so nice!
And it's proud that the card you impress most is from Taiwan!

nisnoopy3, Malaysia

Nice meeting you in this spotlight! Wonderful report about the mail delivery system using suitcases! :D

jdyson, United States of America

Thank you for sharing your story!! It gives a wonderful insight into your culture and lifestyle!

kamikm, United States of America

What a wonderful story! Hopefully I will get your address or you will get mine !! Thank you!! :-D

fatgarfield, Hong Kong

Great sharing! Keep on postcrossing and inspiring others!

dogfan, United States of America

Best Postcrossing story yet! Thanks for sharing this.

Poste, United States of America

Teacher's are wonderful and very special, you are doing amazing and important life changing services. You also reminded everyone to be patient with mail delivery systems. Best wishes and good show!

isagv, Germany

I liked the interview very much. Thanks. :)

poissonrouge, Switzerland

Thank you for all your nice messages, here and in my mailbox :)
Sending cards from Guinea became much cheaper since I discovered that you can bargain the prices ! As I am "a good customer", I can now send cards for a third or less of the normal price. That's Guinea !

Cheryll, Suriname

Nice to share a bit of your life with us Madeleine! really interesting how each country can be different, best wishes overthere and stay healthy and safe!

rcornelison, United States of America

Thank you for the wonderful interview with a wonderful human being. We should have no complaints here in the usa. One of these days I'll get your address to send one of my cards to you. what a wonderful world we live in to learn everyday.

LadyP1964, Germany

This just proves how postcrossing brings different people in different places with different cultures together - an amazing interview!

lucie_zp, Ukraine

You are doing a very important job by teaching women. God bless you.


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