A visit to Puyssentut
A visit to Puyssentut
It was a warm, sunny afternoon as we arrived in the village of Homps, in the Gers region of Southern France. My husband Rene and I were on our way to Narbonne for a two week vacation. We had decided to stop on our way down and visit Puyssentut, an initiative started by Angela Wood and her partner Dirk-Karel de Geus.
As a member of ACCESS’s Cancerlink team, I was excited to meet the people behind this project. Having had a personal experience with breast cancer, the idea of this couple creating a retreat for people who have or have had cancer spoke directly to my heart.
What is their goal? To create an inspiring place that supports people mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually in their recovery and healing process.
Their passion in reaching this goal is very evident as we pull onto their property and are greeted by a smiling Angela. Together with Dirk, they have uprooted themselves from busy Amsterdam to create their dream in an ancient farmhouse in a beautifully tranquil setting. Since July 2011 they have lived on a construction site, housing themselves and their two young daughters in a renovated wing of the house.
Tea and water are served at the oversized table in the open courtyard. Angela regales us with how they have come to be in this lovely area. We had just driven through acres and acres of sunflowers, their faces raised to the sun. The hay fields surrounding their home are being ploughed, the hum of the tractor in the background.
The wildflowers in the garden are in full bloom and the swimming pool reflects the sky invitingly. It’s no surprise that this location captured their imaginations and their hearts.
Dirk arrives home from a shopping trip, the car laden with groceries. Rene leaves to help him unload. Angela and I continue our conversation sitting in the shade in the courtyard. What I learn is that Dirk, a Brabant based business man, is the primary motivation behind their decision.
Three of his close friends were diagnosed with cancer over a one year period. He was very involved in their recovery, and saw firsthand how draining the experience was for each of them. He also realised how few resources there were to support them emotionally throughout their experience.
This spurred Dirk on to want to fill the gap and he came up with the idea of a retreat: Where the atmosphere would be one of hope, and where guests could return home after a visit equipped with the tools needed to support their future health and wellbeing.
As a psychotherapist, Angela was deeply aware of the challenges facing someone with cancer. Together they travelled extensively in France looking at locations. Puyssentut captured their imaginations and their hearts.
Relying on many volunteers over these last months as well as an extensive building investment, their dream will be realised early in 2013, when the doors will open to greet the first guests.
How to help
They continue to need help, both financially and physically. Right now you can help by donating to and promoting their crowdfunding campaign.
Through Indiegogo.com they are raising money to convert the barn into an activity space. Here guests will be able to participate in activities through which they can come deeper into contact with themselves and others; find peace and acceptance; discover hidden and new aspects of themselves; and learn new tools that they can take into their daily lives.
You can also contribute to the Puyssentut Foundation which makes it possible for anyone, regardless of circumstances, to stay at Puyssentut and to reap the benefits of a stay there.
Volunteers are welcome to help finish renovation of the house, to landscape the gardens and organise the vegetable garden.
Trainers and therapists in a wide variety of fields are also needed. There are 4 therapy rooms and, of course, soon the activity space. If you feel drawn to share your knowledge and skills, tell Angela what you can offer:
- Contact form
- Email: info[at]puyssentut[dot]org