Marianne grew up in a large family, with six siblings in a context where community life was very much emphasized and valued. She always wanted to contribute to society trying to reconcile pro bono work and volunteering during her studies and subsequent career as a business lawyer.
One transformative moment came when volunteering for the Salvation Army in Paris, participating in nightly soup kitchens for the homeless and subsequently by providing legal advice to people in need at one of the Salvation Army centres. She realized that society makes us believe that marginalised people are different from us which provides a justification for not treating them the way we should treat others. Later on, at the first opportunity to visit a refugee camp, she went with her 2 years old son and watched him playing football with the other kids. It was just the way it should be: tiny humans playing together, regardless of their skin colours, culture, economic situation or religion…
This experience as well as the increasing urgency to act in face of the increasing number of refugees arriving at our shores provided the motivation to start the Odyssey Project in 2016.
After a career as an international business lawyer in Rome and Paris, and then as the Executive Director of an NGO in London, Marianne Leloup is now a Paris based lawyer specializing in foreigners’ rights. Marianne is also a public speaker on subjects such as social integration and fear of the "other".
José is a Portuguese photographer living in London since 2007. Originally graduated as mining engineer working in several locations around the world, José used photography to document his travels. Photography soon became a vital way of seeing the world and portraying the different realities experienced. In 2010, he opted for a career change, becoming a full time photographer. José is interested in urban identity, social behavior and social change.
Driven by the current situation in Europe concerning refugees and by the constant flow of disturbing news, Jose decided to volunteer in the Calais camp to assist and experience the situation first hand. During his first visit to the Jungle in Calais, he was impressed by the entrepreneurial drive of the refugees but above all by the good will thriving amid the terrible conditions. He then started to document and visit regularly. This was the spark for the creation of the Odyssey project. José strongly believes in a multicultural open society where dialogue, sharing and respect for one another is the only way to live a better life.