There are three European geographical collectives and they meet once or twice a year to discuss issues relevant to the groups in the region, support the development of new groups, and organise solidarity in the movement. All the Emmaus groups in Europe are welcome to take part. The Emmaus Europe Romania Collective met in Satu Mare in Romania on 14-15 May 2019. Gelu (Un coup de main d’Emmaus Iasi – Romania) and Marie-France (Emmaus Rennes – France) give their feedback about the meeting.
How long have you been with Emmaus?
Gelu Having co-founded Coup de Main in Pantin in 1994, I discovered Emmaus in 1997 and visited a large number communities across the length and breadth of France. In 2000, I founded Un coup de main d’Emmaüs Iasi and I have been the group’s director ever since.
Marie-France I started working with Emmaus in Hédé 20 years ago, initially just a few days a year for the big sales. I have got more involved since I retired and I am responsible for the volunteer rota and I also sit on the board. I am now a member of the executive committee and responsible for volunteer induction, training and monitoring, and the training aspect in particular is very important to me.
What does solidarity mean to you?
Marie-France Solidarity means listening to and helping the most deprived people, and being involved in the journey towards achieving wellbeing for everyone and living together successfully.
Gelu In my eyes, solidarity means sharing our experience and resources in order to address people’s woes and poverty.
Why do you take part in the collective? What does it mean to you?
Gelu The collective has several roles. In a country, it enables members to jointly foster the Emmaus values, create a social work network, and it provides a certain amount of local credibility. At the movement level, the collective relays information between the groups, Emmaus Europe, and Emmaus International, and it is also a mark of transparency and coherence. Generally speaking, the collective is an important forum for small groups and individual members, giving them a more accessible platform to air their views than larger meetings.
Marie-France This was my first ever collective. In my group, we are very focused on our work. I saw the collective as an opportunity to open up to the outside world, see what is being done elsewhere, and educate myself, in order to subsequently convey my new-found knowledge to the other volunteers, employees and companions.
What are you taking away?
Marie-France I have discovered many things: new target groups, new ways of working, new contexts. The Emmaus groups differ from the authorities in the way they approach marginalised communities, they are closer to young people and more in tune with the grassroots. I feel that these young people now believe in a better future. « Well done » to the incredibly motivated supervisory team.
Gelu The collective is invaluable on many fronts. It enables you to gain a good understanding of the other groups’ work and the movement as a whole, and discuss very varied experiences and then feed back this information to your home group. The collective has also enabled Emmaus in Romania to become a coherent whole.
The next Romania Collective will be held in Chalon-sur-Saône in France in spring 2020. For more information, please read the minutes of the last few collective meetings and contact the EE Secretariat.