Feedback from the International Container and Transport meeting.

Feedback from the International Container and Transport meeting.

The 1st International Container and Transport meeting took place at the Emmaus community of Angouleme*, France, from 11 – 13 December 2019. This meeting gathered around 60 participants from groups that are active in this programme, or who would like to get involved, from all the regions of the Movement.

For years, the container programme has been a key solidarity instrument within the Emmaus Movement. By selecting goods which meet the needs of Emmaus groups in Africa and Latin America (such as clothes, furniture or various appliances), the Emmaus groups in Europe directly strengthen (in terms of providing items for training workshops, donations of clothes to the most disadvantaged) or indirectly support (selling goods in second-hand sales) the work carried out by recipient groups. Sharing resources in this way also exists within Europe. This transport programme enables European groups to transport goods by lorry from one group to another.

Due to restrictive customs regulations, the significant financial cost involved and also their environmental impact, the container and transport programmes have raised questions within the Movement. Consequently, Emmaus International organised the 1st International Container and Transport meeting to enable us to work collectively on these different challenges, to present fresh ideas and a new way of organising these programmes.

Discussions on areas to explore.

The International Container and Transport meeting was punctuated by workshops that highlighted many potential avenues to be explored. Actions to be implemented now within the Emmaus groups for more communication and better organisation, good practices to be developed, in particular to increase the funding of these programmes, as well as new proposals to make these programmes more sustainable and respond to the environmental issue. These discussions were enriched by first-hand accounts from participants and were set up based on the diversity of the groups represented, as well as the profiles of the speakers (companions, administrators, activity leaders, volunteers, etc.).

An equally important factor for all groups was the need for exchanges between the groups. They emphasised greater human contact as a way in which this programme could evolve and become more sustainable. How? By promoting the exchanges of companions during the preparation of a shipment, mobilising the neighbouring groups who have doubts about participating in this programme, and increased communication of the impacts of the programme, both for sender and recipient groups.

*The International Container and Transport meeting was held at the Emmaus community in Angouleme, France, which is greatly involved in both programmes. During a visit to the community, companions and leaders had the chance to present their vision of pooling resources and solidarity, along with their best practices. A memorable event for all those participating in the meeting!