Emmaus and ATD, shoulder to shoulder with the poor
In Côte d’Ivoire, Emmaus Jekawili has, for many years, been working alongside ATD Fourth World. Koné Nantegue, the group leader, explains how our two organisations are united in the fight against poverty.
What are the links between Emmaus and ATD Fourth World in Côte d’Ivoire?
We have known ATD Fourth World in Côte d’Ivoire since the 1980s. As a social worker, I worked in the Bouaké prison where I met Sister Simone, a volunteer for ATD Fourth World. She supported adults serving long sentences, working on their moral, religious and professional rehabilitation. ATD organised various activities for these adults, helping them to regain their dignity, to get back on their feet. Sometimes we discovered real talents among these people!
Emmaus tended to support the minors in prison. We also encountered ATD in the most unstable areas, working with children in difficulty. Emmaus and ATD work with the same groups of people, but our approaches differ. ATD’s volunteers, who live on site, are a permanent presence alongside the most marginalised, whereas Emmaus works with local organisations that carry out projects with these groups of people.
What activities do you carry out together?
Every 17 October, along with ATD Fourth World, we celebrate the World Day for Overcoming Poverty. We get together at their premises in Bouaké. We hear from people we have supported, and we also invite celebrities and those involved with politics to come and see the work we do with marginalised people. It is an opportunity for lobbying around the issues faced by the poorest, in particular water, education, migration or even the topic of widows. These are often great, sociable occasions. One year, for example, we worked together to create a big fresco with all those present. We are currently preparing for 17 October 2017, which will be the 30th year that this day has been marked.
What is Emmaus and ATD’s shared vision?
Emmaus and ATD Fourth World are two organisations with an immense respect for one another. While we each work in our own way, we have a shared goal: we are present alongside the poor, we stand with them and by their side throughout their difficulties and their troubles, and we look for solutions together. Our central value is the respect for the dignity of humans, whoever they are and wherever they live.