Portrait of the month: Lila, volunteer in Emmaus Satu Mare (April 2022)

Sammy : Today for this interview, I am having Lila from Satu Mare, I will let you introduce yourself.

Lila : My name is Lila Aubry, I am 21 years old, I am in civic service since almost 8 months. I did a degree in psychology after the baccalaureate and then I went on civic service. […] Thereafter, I would like to be a specialized educator.

Could you introduce me to Emmaus Satu Mare ?

Emmaus Satu Mare aims to accompany youth from 18 to 30 years old in their professional and social integration, in order for them to be autonomous and happy in their life. The youth we are getting are coming from orphanages for some of them, others found “in the street”. […] They come from disadvantaged families or never went to school. […]

Can you introduce me to the team ?

There is Jean-Philippe who is the president of the organization and deals with paperwork, the contacts with Emmaus Europe or Emmaus International. […] He is also the treasurer of Emmaus Europe. […] Then, […] there is Sorin, who is the director of Emmaus Satu Mare. On a daily basis, he manages the youth and has an educational role. He also coordinates all the employees. […]. 

Then, there is the social part, with Manon, Viktoria and Dalma. Manon and Viktoria are social workers. […] The three of them are doing talk groups […] with the youth. It can discuss about sexuality, relationships, respect, self confidence, road safety, recycling. […] These talk groups are very important. […] They also take care of the health part and make the connection with the psychologist.

Then, there is Monica who is an accountant and Jean-Philippe’s assistant. […] Then, we have Ivet who is depot manager and Simona who is store manager. They run both institutions. We have Darian who is a driver, he transports the young when needed, makes deliveries, gets donations. […] We also have Maria who works in the kitchen, she is a former young from Emmaus. 

Lastly, Iosif who is manager of the workshop part at the depot. 

And how are arranged your different places of action ?

There are three. The store, more in the city center where there is the office, the kitchen. […] It includes a store of dishes, toys, decorative objects of all kinds, clothes and accessories. […] And we are in the process of remodeling another outer part that will become a vegetable garden, with the idea of growing some vegetables […] and to make a pleasant place to rest. […] There is also the kitchen where every morning, lunch is prepared. […] Then, there is “La Mara”, the house where the youth live. There are about 20 places. […] Nearby, there is also a smaller house which has 3 bedrooms, where live youth who are in the idea, of a greater autonomy […] and then have their own apartment.

Viktoria, social worker, is the head of “La Mara”. There is always someone available if they need it. […] We also have a furniture store with a depot behind it. Receipts are from France and Switzerland. 

And you personally, what are your activities ?

I am on a civic service mission with Claire. Our mission is to accompany the youth in their daily lives. […] We can be at the cash register, in the kitchen, etc […] We offer leisure activities outside of work, […] go to the movie theater, play football, walk, go to the swimming-pool, play board games, do role-playing. 

And what do you think about Emmaus Iasi, did you notice any differences between or commonalities ?

I am really glad I came here. […] Here, offices are in the community, where the companions live. With us, they are in the store. And conversely, you, they eat to the community and we at the store. There are differences at team organization level. There are Jean-Philippe and Sorin who run the association and make the most important decisions. They have the same will for the organization and for the youth. […] And even as a volunteer or employee of the organization, we are solicited to give our opinion about the behavior of any youth. We have a meeting all together on friday to discuss this. […] We are much more focused, I think, on the social character of the association. Its aim is actually to raise the youth to the best of their abilities and to the social level of everyone. […]

Each team member has that motivation […] correct them whenever something is not done well or if they are not respectful towards others. […] There are few young on whom it doesn’t work […] suddenly, they leave, accompanied of course. 

Commonalities are the accompaniment of people in social difficulties, who have a priori a mental disability more or less important, who found themselves in a difficult situation. They have no other people who can accompany them within their family. 

Was there a moment that marked you during your civic service ?

On Dany’s birthday, I was on duty to “La Mara”. He wanted to celebrate it with his Mara buddies and another friend who is 17 years old who lives in a center called “casa de copii” but who comes to work at the store with us. We picked him up in the center where he lives. On our way back, […] we met two other young boys. And then a fight starts. Dany gets punched in the face, and falls on the ground. I am starting to say “stop stop”, no reaction. Then, he almost got kicked in the ribs. At this time, I step in and say “gata gata” (stop, stop in romanian, editor’s note). They stop. In any case, there is a young who is beaten in front of me and others. I was shocked. I had never seen an act of violence in this way with my own eyes. It was at the beginning of my civic service, I wondered if it would start again. I was shocked, but that didn’t mean that I wanted to stop or that. I felt insecure the next few days. It also teaches me about life and what can happen sometimes, how to react, how to deal with it myself later.

And a positive moment ?

Once, we proposed to go to the Satu Mare rink with the youth. There was a young who didn’t really want to go because he didn’t know how to skate. We insisted […] and he came. He put his feet on the ice. At the beginning, we had to be each one of us to “carry” him forward. And after three hours; he got there. He even wanted to take a few steps by himself. It was a small pleasure for us and a great one for him, he thanked us very much.

Thank you for granting me this interview and good luck for the future. 

You’re welcome, thank you.