Postcrossing Blog

Stories about the Postcrossing community and the postal world

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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.