Emmaus International

From 29th January to 7th February 2019, the whole Africa region rallied together to show how the most excluded people can organise to reclaim their fundamental rights.

Around fifty companions, volunteers and group leaders participated in the work camp and discovered a range of locally-led alternatives.

At the last World Assembly in Jesolo (Italy) in 2016, Emmaus restated its resolve to continue organising its international work camps, which for several years have provided a wealth of discussions and a forum for shared commitment. This Africa work camp is the second to be held after the organisation of the Asia work camp in South India in January 2018. They are a symbol of the inexhaustible driving force of the movement.
Emmaus International members from the four regions of the movement (Africa, America, Asia and Europe) were welcomed by the Emmaus Pahou group in Cotonou, Benin. Through reflection workshops and fieldwork, they addressed the three struggles of the movement and discussed their perceptions and practices relating to international solidarity. This interaction filled the participants with new motivation to continue combatting the causes of poverty, wherever they may be in the world.

Discussion with the local population and members of civil society were a key element of the work camp

As well as the meeting with the residents’ association AUAEAN, with which Emmaus International has been working for more than 10 years in the context of the Nokoué project (a citizen project for access to water and sanitation), the participants had the opportunity to see the sociologist Clémence Sessou deliver a training session in the village of Dékamney as part of her activity to raise awareness of environmental health among the population. There were also opportunities to discover the activities of the three Emmaus groups in Benin throughout the work camp – Emmaus Pahou, Emmaus Tohoué and the Association des Femmes Amies (AFA). To close the work camp, a first meeting of 6 local associations based on the banks of lake Nokoué was organised to start creating alliances and joint initiatives – for the first time ever!

Another highlight of the work camp was the organisation of a big solidarity sale within the community of Emmaus Pahou

After unloading the container sent from France (by the Rédénné community), the participants and all of the local team worked hard to sort, clean and store the items ahead of the sale. The population of Sainte Rita and surroundings stepped up to the challenge and made a great success of the solidarity sale. The funds collected will contribute to continuing the projects implemented by the group on a local scale with and for the most excluded. This Emmaus-style resource sharing is one of the foundations of the international solidarity model which the movement stands for.
Other help was provided during the work camp by valiant participants who, for example, assisted with the earthwork for the future Maison de l’Eau (Water Centre), which will serve as a reception centre and forum for discussion for users of the association AUAEAN. The work on this centre should be finished within two months.
Following this Emmaus work camp in Africa, the participants returned to their respective countries and communities, full of new ideas and inspired by this constructive interaction.
This is by no means the last you will hear of these international work camps – in September 2019 it will be the turn of the America region to welcome the next participants in Colombia!

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