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.

>> Find our general position on the current crisis

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 Rochefort  (France) 

The community Emmaus Rochefort has been able to reorganise its work during the lockdown by carrying out some of its activities, whilst using its creativity to develop new ones. “No more procrastinating, we’re getting on with the works that were planned!” states Erwann Briand, the community leader. French classes for companions from abroad are also continuing at the A.A.P.I.Q social centre. Using video conferences and remote working, solutions can always be found! In terms of innovative projects, the community has created a cyber café. “To enable our customers to get to know us better, three computers are now available with access to the Emmaus France and Emmaus International websites and our own website, and it’s also possible to watch some films about the Emmaus movement. Coming soon!”  Read more on the Emmaus Rochefort Facebook page. The community is reinventing itself: welcome to Emmaus 2.0!


Jekawili  (Côte d'Ivoire) 

Jekawili, based in the country´s second largest city, Bouaké, is the only Emmaus group in Côte d'Ivoire. It has a poultry farm and orchards which generate income to develop social initiatives. The association provides assistance to the most vulnerable by donating medication and clothing, running literacy sessions, and information sessions on sexually transmitted infections. It also offers apprenticeship opportunities for young people in difficult situations. During the pandemic, “our contact activities such as welcoming and listening to people in difficulty have taken a hit”, regrets Nantegue Kone, the association’s president. “But we have adapted our work programmes on the ground and at the head office.” he adds. “At the moment, we are raising awareness on COVID-19 in unregulated Koranic schools together with officials from the Ministry of Health”, Nantegue Kone explains.

Emmaus Geo  (Georgia

Georgia, a country located on the border of Europe and Asia, has adopted strict containment measures that are having a major impact on its economy. “The restrictions put in place by the government have plunged the country into a terrible crisis. Many people have lost their jobs, which means they can no longer afford basic items”, warns Giorgi Ghelaghutashvili, the group leader of Emmaus Geo.

Faced by this health crisis, life in the community is being reorganised and the companions are making masks to protect citizens. At the same time, “despite the closure of our shop in the capital, we will continue to support and assist those who suffer most”, explains Giorgi. “We are working with the Carrefour supermarket chain to make food baskets which are then distributed to people in need. Thanks to this collaboration, the association has already helped 95 families by providing food and basic necessities”, he adds. Far from giving up, Emmaus Geo is staying motivated “our support is ongoing and we’re doing everything possible to provide support to families in difficulty”, confirms Giorgi.

Emmaus Pereira  (Columbia) 

The Emmaus Pereira community, located one hour away from Bogota, is a residential and working community. As a service provider approved a few years ago by the Ministry of the Environment, the group lives to a large extent off its work collecting recyclable material from companies and individuals. Unfortunately, not all those working in the recycling sector have been so lucky. The community therefore set up some support initiatives for these workers from underprivileged neighbourhoods: “We saw that many trade recycling workers were excluded as they could not access and comply with the rules. Our association welcomed a group of 15 people, including both men and women who are the heads of households, and we are carrying out social work with them, particularly by providing them with the opportunity to continue developing their work, which is what they do for a living on a daily basis”, states Gloria leader of the group. As this initiative was launched before the pandemic, during this crisis period Emmaus Pereira has decided to support them in another way by providing food assistance so that can stay with their families during lockdown, until they are able to return to work.

Tara Projects  (India) 

Since the third week in March, a strict lockdown has been imposed in India, and the people in the second most populated country in the world have had to stay at home. "Our health infrastructure is poor, therefore a hugely populated country like ours cannot afford a situation like the one in Europe and the USA" explains Moon Sharma, Director of the Tara Projects group in New Delhi. "It is a very challenging and helpless situation for the ordinary poor patient”, she adds. Our mutual health community actions continued, until it became dangerous for our paramedics and doctors due to the fast spreading virus." Under these exceptional circumstances, the community volunteers at Tara Projects have been actively working to help marginalised and helpless people. "Community kitchens are being organised almost on a regular basis and food is distributed to people in need. We are trying to feed at least two hundred people in need every day.  We have also produced protective surgical masks. 10,000 masks have been distributed so far to the poor and to vulnerable people. Finally, we have organised several sessions on awareness and preventive measures to be taken for Covid-19. It is the real spirit of Emmaus values of solidarity, sharing and support " she explains.

Despite social distancing, despite the limits and difficulties, the Tara Project group has done everything it can to help the local population, in the spirit of solidarity, rallying and taking action. "These are trying times for all of us. We need to be together and be there for each other" confirms Moon Sharma.