Well Sofronie was in fact a small lady, my great grandmother. She was born on a cold December morning in 1878 in a small village in Normandy. In search of a job, she arrived in Rouen with her brother aged 14 where she found work in a textile factory. It is only in 1928 at the age of 50 that she meets the man she thought she was going to share the rest of her life with, Georges Fournier, my great grandfather…my blood great grandfather. He was a widower with 5 children: Marguerite 14 (who died in 1928 a couple of months before their wedding), Georges 13, Lucienne 8 (my grandmother), Yvonne 7 and Denise 5.
Five years later Georges Fournier also passed away leaving Sofronie in charge of all his children as the war years loomed ahead. With very little means at her disposal she carried on working in the factory whilst raising the children on her own. Lucienne was 20 when she gave birth to my father in May 1940 but soon the ravages of war would take her away and she died at 23 of tuberculosis whilst my grandfather was a prisoner of war. This left my father alone and he was promptly entrusted to the care of Sofronie…until the end of the war.
As in many families there are people about whom stories are being told because they stand out and have left their imprint on the family history. Sofronie was one of them: the stepmother and step grandmother to whom everybody came and took refuge, the small lady with small means who everybody spoke of very fondly. All my life I have heard stories about Sofronie…She was there to welcome my father again aged 8 when he was running away from his father’s new partner. He was to stay there until his 12th birthday. This lady had on her own cared for all these step children and step grandchildren who had come her way and she had done so genuinely and lovingly with so little!
So when I was looking for a name for this foundation ‘Sofronie’ felt like an obvious choice. This foundation was going to embody the spirit of Sofronie supporting as best it can children that are less fortunate: orphaned or abandoned, denied access to education or a stable family environment or very simply love and affection. This is how we are chiefly directing the projects we are funding as you will see from the list of foundations we support.
We know that not all children are dealt the same cards at birth and so we wish to support other ‘Sofronies’ out there wherever they maybe (here in London, or further away in Romania or Africa) to help them and their organizations give the children in their care the love and support they need so one day they will have a chance to stand on their own two feet, look after themselves, become educated, raise a family and change the course of their own lives and maybe others’.
Founder of Sofronie Foundation.
This lady had on her own cared for all these step children and step grandchildren who had come her way and she had done so genuinely and lovingly with so little!