Emmaus International

Albert Tevoedjre pays tribute to Florence Arthaud, alongside whom he received a universal citizenship passport on 23rd May 2013.

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Yes, I send my respects, from far away in Africa, and I pay tribute to you, Florence, citizen of the world!

The crash in Argentina in which Florence Arthaud and her companions lost their lives touched thousands of hearts in France, Europe and the Americas. This cruel act of fate also deeply saddened many in Africa. She is well-remembered here for her escapades in the 1992 Dakar race, a young woman of exceptional bravery, an “Amazon with a shock of curly hair” at the helm of a trimaran.
There were other occasions on which she won sincere admiration.

Personally I will remember with tenderness the privilege of being invited to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 23rd May 2013 to receive a universal citizenship passport alongside Florence, as well as Stéphane Hessel (represented by his widow, Christiane), Anne Hidalgo, Mario Soares, Frédérico Mayor and others. I was granted the honour of being part of this group thanks to the long memories of the friends of Abbé Pierre, founder of Emmaus international, who allowed me to make my humble commitment to “serving all humankind … beyond all borders!”

Universal citizenship is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, in article 13, that: “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state”.
We need men and women with courage and good hearts remind us of this from time to time.

This is why the Organisation for Universal Citizenship was established by Emmaus, UTOPIA and the Danielle Mitterrand Foundation. To promote their ideas they award a symbolic universal passport to individuals who embody humanity and its openness. Florence Arthaud richly deserved this recognition.

When I think of her now and of all the victories she won in the face of adversity, I know that she would feel the anguish of the African continent today, powerless and wounded by Ebola or by Boko Haram, and would urge me not to forget the hope that we shared on that 23rd May in Paris: “See you soon, my friends, on the joyful pathways to new epiphanies, you who break chains, who push back boundaries, who forge compasses, you who take anger at injustice, giving meaning to humanity and bringing it to life … All of you, brothers and sisters who will live on after us, love each other and …TAKE ACTION!”

 Florence loved life, and she loved people near and far … She mastered all fears and is a symbol of a hope that will never die! Farewell!

Albert TEVOEDJRE (Brother Melchior)

Porto-Novo (Benin) 12th March 2015

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Florence Arthaud, 23rd May 2013:

"I feel very proud to receive this World Citizen passport because deep down I have always considered myself a citizen of the world. If I
chose the sea, it was because I had a need for freedom. When I was eighteen I set off to sea because you can move about freely on the sea; you cast off the ropes, and you are free. There are no frontiers, just one race - that of sailors - and the only rule that exists is that of solidarity and mutual help. I would really love this to happen on land too, it would be great."

Albert Tevoedjre has held important posts in Benin and in a range of African and international organisations, particularly the International Labour Office.
In 1977, he published Poverty, Wealth of the People. He was invited to speak at the Emmaus International general assembly in 1984.
This marked the beginning of a long and fruitful friendship with Abbé Pierre and Emmaus International. He founded the Emmaus community in Benin in 1988 and brought the movement back to Africa.