Interview with Théo...
Théo works in the Emmaus Europe secretariat, in Montreuil near Paris, and is one of our regular spokesperso, in the Foundation. He explains us what are his missions and
talks about Emmaus at the european scale.
Hello Théo! Can you introduce yourself?
I am 24, I did a training to become general engineer in Lille (France).
During my schooling, I got involved in an association working for international solidarity; this is how I wished to work in this area afterwards. I have worked in Emmaus Europe for one year, as responsable of solidarities.
What is the role of the Emmaus Europe secretariat in the Emmaus movement?
The Emmaus Europe secretariat is aimed to support Emmaus Europe, that is to say the whole of the european groups, in his actions and his internal life. The main thing is thus to support the european groups, mostly the new ones which are emerging or developing and need a support from other more experienced groups; the groups wishing to start an action at the european level; the groups wishing to have a discussion within the movement; etc.
The other goal of Emmaus Europe is to build a shared word for the whole movement at the european level, in order to advocate for tematics at the core of the daily work of the european groups; this is also the mission of the secretariat to support Emmaus Europe in this way.
What are your missions?
For my part, I exclusively work on the internal organization of Emmaus Europe, to support the groups in their actions of solidarity, from one group to another.
This includes the organization of an annual program for solidarities which gives the groups the possibility to ask other groups for a financial support on some projects; a transportation program which makes possible a material support for a better distribution, because the contexts of each group don’t allow them to collect the same amount of material; the monitoring of the salons of solidarities and summer work camps which are places for exchange and solidarity; eventually, the organization of geographical european collectives, which are the working groups allowing to organize and talk about the solidarity in Europe.
You actually organize and participate to the european Collectives. Can you explain what is it? To which issues is it working? How do you imagine they could evolve?
The geographical european collectives are working groups which gather together before organizing solidarity in Europe. There are three of them, respectively focused on the needs of the groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland and Ukraine, and Romania.
Representatives of the european groups who wish it meet together twice a year to talk about the development of the groups, their needs of support and how we can work together to actually support them, whatever the needs are financial, material, technical… Above all, it is an important moment of meeting and exchange, that gives all the meaning and the wealth to the solidarity within the movement.
I have been here only for one year, so I can hardly observe a true evolution. Concerning what I understood about the collectives when they were born, I feel that the groups of eastern Europe, that were traditionally considered as the “supported” groups, now work as a driving force in the collective, and they support themselves new groups in their development. The solidarity which we are talking about is not going from West to East anymore, in a caricatured way, but is much more led by the groups of the East themselves.
As you have a global vision, what is your opinion about the evolution of the Emmaus movement in Europe? How it is perceived? Which progress/difficulties do you note?
Even if I am not directly involved in the advocacy work and the european networks, I think that Emmaus Europe is really recognized there. The association is part of several large networks which work on issues like poverty, migrations, circular economy, etc. and the experience of Emmaus is welcome because there are direct examples of how we implement on the field the values led by those networks. This is very important to nurture the advocacy work, so it can be based on a concrete basis.
In the other way, one of the difficulties for Emmaus is to carry a shared word from the groups and a true advocacy to promote our alternatives and show the whole political dimension of our action; at this point, the involvement in the networks is also helpful for the movement. Indeed, the actions of the Emmaus federation are above all towards its groups and it is not always known by the general public.
Thank you for your time!