In May, two members of Emmaus Dover flew to Uruguay to represent us at the Emmaus World Assembly. Companions Steve and Chris joined representatives of Emmaus communities from around the world for the meeting which took place from 9-13 May.

The world assembly usually takes place every four years: the 2022 meeting was a hybrid online and in-person event to replace the postponed 2020 meeting. It is key to the development and coordination of the Emmaus movement, and offers us the opportunity to meet in person, spend valuable time together, discuss our practices and experiences, debate on fundamental subjects that are essential for the future of the movement and define our guidelines for the next four years.

Chris said: “I really enjoyed the whole thing, it was a big learning curve for me – I didn’t know much before about the whole Emmaus movement but it helped me to get the bigger picture. Some places have communities, others don’t, everyone works quite differently and I found it really mind-blowing hearing about it all.”

Steve and Chris took part in the busy schedule of workshops and meetings over the week, as well as a visit to a local community and a local landmark. Steve said:

“On the Friday, the last day, we all travelled up to Montevideo, and visited the National Institute of Human Rights. Uruguay was quite a military state up until the late 80s, early 90s. It was a building that had been used for interrogation. As you go in, they have the bill of human rights at the front door, you go through onto the ground floor which is where all the rooms they used to interrogate people were. Upstairs, each room had a speaker. Through translators we found out information, things like first-hand reports, newspaper cuttings. It was really heart-breaking to hear some of the stories that people went through.”

Guest speakers presented at sessions during the week, and Chris found one of the speakers particularly inspirational. He said:

“One of the speakers was from a group indigenous to Peru and all his people were either being locked up or killed for who they are. Not a lot gets to me, at all, but listening to the guy standing there so proud, explaining who he was and telling the history of his people made me think – you absolute legend.”

The week featured intensive workshop sessions, where attendees could contribute their thoughts and ideas to the future of the movement. Steve and Chris had the opportunity to connect with people from Emmaus groups around the world, and hear more about the wide variety of work that is undertaken in each country. Steve said:

“It was really good to connect with different communities from Europe and around the globe, and to hear what they’re going through. In the UK it feels like we’re often hindered by red tape. But some communities are struggling to even feed the people that they should be feeding. Stories coming out of communities like Bosnia for example are really astounding. In some places communities can’t find enough potatoes to feed people – here we have to turn down a sofa that doesn’t have a label on it for example. It’s really difficult to put into perspective.”

The outcome of the World Assembly will help to shape the direction the Emmaus movement takes over the next four years. We’re delighted Steve and Chris could represent us at this important event.