The association Maux sans frontière was created in 2004 on the initiative of some members of the Jeune Chambre Economique (equivalent of a Junior Chamber of Commerce) of Saint Malo: Nathalie Deloustal, Christophe Huet and Gilles Lurton. The administrative board of the hospital of Saint Malo immediately supported the project. Anne Joret Lown was the first president.

Objective of the Association

To make volunteer interpreters available to assist foreigners who are victims of accidents or illnesses in order to simplify relationships with doctors, healthcare personnel and administrative services (for example, insurance, medical records and repatriation)

This involves meeting patients, generally in the accident and emergency department, in the best possible conditions and helping them to overcome their difficulties including on discharge from hospital, without taking over the role of official social services.

Our volunteers intervene generally within the Rance Emeraude Hospital Group (which covers Saint Malo, Dinan and Cancale), at the Gardiner hospital in Dinard, the Clinique de la Côte Eméraude in Saint-Malo and on the request of social services.

Volunteer interpreters helping foreign patients


An administration committee ensures the correct running of the association, including recruitment and management of the interpreters, relations with outside organisations, financial management and maintaining our web site up to date.

The association currently has about 70 members who operate in 25 languages. About half of them are foreigners living in the region, the other half are French citizens who speak one or more foreign languages fluently.

When joining, a new interpreter makes a commitment to confidentiality. A web site www.mauxsansfrontiere.org gives basic information on the association (organisation, contacts) and provides joining forms and general procedures to follow during interventions.

How we operate

  1. An agreement made between the Rance Emeraude area hospital community and Maux sans frontière sets out the manner in which interpreters are made available. A list of interpreters with their contact details, linguistic level and availability is updated every quarter and given to the client and projects department of Saint Malo hospital. This information is put onto the hospital’s intranet.
    When the need arises, the hospital contacts an interpreter directly.

    Every year Saint Malo hospital admits nearly 700 foreigners to its various departments and Maux sans frontière intervenes in about 70 cases in the different languages it offers, which include Arabic, Dutch, English, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serb, Spanish and Ukrainian.
  2. The association Maux sans frontière is contacted directly by other operators (such as the Gardiner hospital in Dinard and social services) whenever they require a competent interpreter to suit their needs.


Maux Sans Frontière is supported by :

  • The Mairie (town hall) of Saint Malo.
  • The Rance Emeraude area hospital community.
  • The Gardiner hospital in Dinard.
  • The singing group Les Corsaires Malouins, which specialises in sea songs and which organises concerts for the association.

Worthy of note,

  • In 2016, the Club BPO (Banque Populaire de l’Ouest) rewarded the work of Maux sans frontière by awarding the association the Prix Initiatives Sociétaires (prize for initiatives to help society) at local and departmental levels.
  • In 2018, the branch of the bank Crédit Agricole in Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes/Cancale awarded Maux sans frontière the Trophée de la vie locale for its community work.

Donations : Maux sans frontière is able to receive donations from companies or private individuals. On receipt of a donation, a tax receipt is sent by the treasurer to the donor, to allow the latter to claim a tax reduction according to his/her tax status and nationality.

For further information please contact the treasurer, René Forgeoux on +33 (0)2 99 89 02 67; address: 4, Venelles, 35350 Saint Coulomb, France Email


Over 15 years of operation, the association has demonstrated its usefulness and effectiveness. It is universally appreciated by all departments of the hospitals and by the patients who it assists. This public-spirited and community-minded action also brings great benefit to the interpreters themselves.

We would like to encourage similar initiatives in other French towns, with which we would share our knowledge and experience.

Languages available

Most European languages as well as some more unusual languages such as Dari, Urdu, Pachto and Farsi.

Where we intervene

  • Hospital of Saint Malo, Clinique de la Côte d’Emeraude (Saint Malo).
  • Hospital Gardiner in Dinard.
  • Social services.
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