In 2014, the Emmaüs community of Sion has partnered with the foundation “ Un Coup de Main d’Emmaüs Iasi”.
Since then, every year, companions from Iasi leave to do an internship in Sion, in order to discover a language, a culture, other ways of living and doing… We receive as well trucks of donations from Sion. This month, we talked with Vincent, deputy head of the community in Sion in charge of the international solidarity project.
Hello Vincent! Can you tell us about and when did you join Emmaüs?
After being unemployed for some time, I discovered Emmaüs by chance. They were looking for workers, I applied, and I have been working for 11 years as a deputy head.
Can you tell us quickly about the Emmaüs community in Sion?
Founded in 1979, the Emmaüs community of Sion welcomed its first companion in 1980.
Today, the community can welcome 15 men and 4 women. It is a self-sustaining association receiving no subvention. Here work 14 employees, a dozen of volunteers, 2 positions for civilists (in Switzerland, the civil service is an alternative to the compulsory military service, ed) et 5 positions for unemployed people who are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. Companions can have access to psychological, social and financial assistance and can benefit from different hosting structure.
What the connection between Emmaüs Sion and Emmaüs Iasi? The donations, the internships, the weaving workshop?
Emmaüs Sion wanted to reconnect with the solidarity of Emmaüs. I have never done solidarity before Iasi. The director if Sion met Gelu at a meeting and he was interested by his career. Then we came to visit Romania and started the first donations. Our partnership was supposed to last three years, but it has been since 2014 and it has not stopped.
hen we participated to the Collective Romania and we proposed to Gelu that 2 companions of Iasi could come to Sion for 3 months to help with the logistic of the goods.
Around this period, we also had with us a volunteer, very handyman with a lot of knowledge in construction (a thought for Henri) who got involved with Iasi and after visiting the community, drew the blueprint for the attic. The weaving, what a story! One day, I got a call from a lady: she would like to donate a loom. I told her I needed to talk with the director of Iasi to see if he was interested. Gelu said yes and another partnership started with Anne-Lise.
Here are the outlines of the relationship between Emmaüs Valais (Swiss canton to which the
city of Sion belongs) and Emmaüs Iasi.
You participate to the Collectives of Romania … how important is it for Emmaüs Sion to be part of it?
Collectives are always really interesting to discover other European communities, to see how they work and to visit their community.
When Collectives happen in Romania, it allows us to see the other Romanian communities, how they function … and of course to visit Iasi to see how it evolves and talk about the potential needs.
Collectives allow us to share our opinions and ideas about the existing communities, and the future ones. They also gave me the opportunity to share by bringing colleagues and companions so they could discover and understand why we’re part of the solidarity project.
Thank to the Collectives, we also involve the Emmaüs community of Berne, Switzerland,