Emmaus International

The Covid-19 pandemic will have a long-term impact on our movement and the world in general. During this crisis period, Emmaus International wants to help you understand what life is like for groups right now, the difficulties they face and community life which, despite all odds, is continuing. This includes initiatives to support the most excluded which are maintained, or put in place, to not lose sight of why we exist: to serve first those who suffer most.

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Reports from the field!

Although work is grinding to a halt in many countries, the Emmaus groups are mobilised and life goes on in the communities. They continue to be outward looking and have not forgotten those who suffer most. Initiatives are being set up or maintained around the world to guarantee the solidarity of the Emmaus movement. Here are some examples of what is happening in the four corners of the world:


Emmaus Ornans  (France) 

In Ornans, a town in eastern France, the Friends’ Committee has not given up despite the closing of its solidarity shop! Thanks to cooperation between Emmaus Ornans and the local branch of Restos du Coeur (a French solidarity association), the town of Ornans is able to maintain and pilot a local food relief initiative during the health crisis. “We have made our stock of food supplies available to the town council. We also make up food baskets with the local supermarkets, which are then distributed by the town council to the most disadvantaged, to people who are not able to leave their homes, to the disabled and patients infected by Covid-19 who are in quarantine.” explains a volunteer, Marc Bianconi. This is a very good example of how associations and local authorities are coordinating efforts to keep helping those who are most vulnerable.


Emmaus Lublin  (Poland) 

Emmaus Lublin is a residential and working community located in east Poland. Despite the closure of the shop and the pizzeria since mid-March, life in quarantine is organised in the community between repair work, outdoor work and manufacturing workshops (carpentry, welding, etc.) The 28 companions at Lublin have not forgotten those who suffer most. “We provide help to the homeless and disadvantaged people in Lublin. Today we work together with the city’s Volunteer Centre. Our work consists in preparing hot meals and sandwiches every day. This work is carried out largely by disabled people supported on a daily basis by our group”, explains Zbigniew Drążkowski, Director of the community.

 (Democratic Republic of Congo

CAJED, a group working for disadvantaged youth and children, is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, making the country’s youth its priority. Along with several educational initiatives, CAJED works to identify child soldiers and offers them shelter at its Transit and Orientation Centre (CTO), while they trace their families in order to re-establish contact. “During this critical period with coronavirus, the group has demonstrated exceptional hospitality towards children linked to armed forces and groups, which are currently emerging in large numbers. In 5 days alone, at the end of March, CAJED vetted, documented and discharged 67 children from armed groups [...].  To respect distancing measures, some children have been placed in temporary foster families, explains Faustin Busimba, a member of the association.  “Taking into account the restrictions on movement between provinces and regions, and to facilitate reunification of these children with their families, the group asked and obtained authorisation from the province’s governor to organise special flights to the children’s areas of origin”, he adds. Furthermore, in terms of prevention work, CAJED is actively participating in a public awareness campaign (a motorised campaign) together with the Provincial Departments for Health and Social Affairs. This group remains committed and determined to help those who suffer most!

Kudumbam  (India) 

Kudumbam, a group located in southern India, is a fierce defender of sustainable agriculture and the environment. On the group´s organic farm, named `Kolunji´, traditional varieties of vegetables and pulses are cultivated by the staff and farmers who come to train there. At the same time, the group manages a microcredit programme through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development. Faced with this crisis, Kudumbam has chosen to provide assistance to the elderly, widows, single women and disabled people who live in the surrounding areas. To do this, 1,500 group leaders from the microcredit programme were invited by Kudumbam to identify vulnerable people in their villages. The latter receive food products and vegetables to help them. The vegetables, distributed on a weekly basis over the next three months, come from motivated Kudumbam borrowers who own small shops and vegetable farms.  In addition, employees at the Kolunji farm distribute vegetables and eggs every day to the elderly and to widows who live in the vicinity of the farm.

Homeworkers Organized for More Employment  (United States) 

Located in Maine, Homeworkers Organized for More Employment (HOME) was preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in a few days’ time. Unfortunately, the coronavirus epidemic which has hit the United States hard, has decided otherwise, forcing the group to cease a large part of its work. Normally HOME is teeming with activity. It has 2 stores and runs craft workshops (weaving, ceramics, leather and glass work). The group sells fruit, vegetables and spices, grown on the community’s land, at local markets. The group uses this additional income source to tackle housing problems in the region. At its six centres, the group provides short and long stay accommodation for people facing homelessness. It also enables poor families to gain access to housing by building affordable homes on land jointly owned by the group. HOME also has a kindergarten which cares for the craft workers´ children and it provides classes for its companions in Spanish, writing and painting, helps migrants with paperwork, and donates food to local organisations and poor families.

Today HOME is being very careful: the community has closed its doors to the public and has had to send most of its employees home. Only the homeless shelter remains open and they continue to distribute food. “On a daily basis HOME is used to providing help to a large number of people, but now there are many whom we can no longer support like we used to due to the situation. It’s difficult for us, but we must prioritise the families in our homeless shelter. In every way imaginable, we must unite to be strong for the weakest among us. If we can be strong for those who are not, we may be able to weather this storm”, says Rosalani Moore, National Manager for the United States. Our strength lies in our movement, we must not lose hope. We owe it to all those people that Emmaus supports!