In November 30 companions, staff and trustees from Emmaus in the UK joined over 200 people from 17 different countries at the Emmaus Europe General Assembly. The Assembly, which took place in Romania, was an opportunity to learn and share a common goal.
Participants joined in a range of challenging and lively discussions and workshops over the three days. They explored issues that impact the European and global Emmaus movement and shared their own experiences and insights, making it an equitable way to share knowledge and gain understanding.
Opportunities to learn
Leon, a companion from Emmaus Mossley, attended workshops about solidarity, work camps and environmental impact.
He said: “The main thing I’ve brought back to share with people at Emmaus Mossley is the need to work towards net zero targets. Hearing how other Emmaus groups have managed to reduce their impact on the environment was inspiring and useful.”
The opening day focused on working together to build a peaceful world. Natalia Sanotska, from Emmaus Oselya in Ukraine, shared what daily life is like at Emmaus Oselya supporting people who are displaced by war.
The Assembly also highlights the women of Emmaus, with the Lucie Coutaz Prize awarded to a woman who keeps Emmaus’s message and values alive. This year’s prize-winner was Rosa Gil Elorduy from Emmaus Bilbao in Spain
Shared drive for a better world
Tori, from the Emmaus UK staff team, was among those who attended the assembly. Speaking about the value of experiencing being part of a bigger movement, she said: “Going to the European Assembly opened my eyes and gave me a proper insight into what being part of an international movement means.
“When you experience the power of the movement, of being together, it becomes almost palpable. It was amazing to see the lives of other companions and to hear their stories. As ever the companions are at the heart of everything we do.”
UK member elected as a Councillor of Emmaus International
Duncan Lewis, CEO of Emmaus Hertfordshire, was elected as a Councillor of Emmaus International (CEI) alongside 11 other successful candidates. The CEIs will act as representatives for the Emmaus Europe Board (Regional Council) and the Emmaus International Board.
Duncan said: “I’d been interested in the organisation internationally ever since I went out to Uruguay to the Global Assembly in May 2022. That opened my eyes to how big Emmaus is globally and to the potential there.
“My new role means there is more opportunity for the UK to influence and participate in issues at European level in particular, so it’s a good thing if we are represented on the Board.”
Duncan will be working on different European-wide projects and, for the next two-and-a-half-years, will attend all Emmaus Europe and Emmaus International Board meetings.
Bringing home a sense of enthusiasm and energy
The Assembly gave people the opportunity to find out more about how their Emmaus community in the UK fits into the wider Emmaus movement in Europe and beyond. As well as meeting people from across Emmaus, it also offered the chance to travel to a new country, experience a different culture, and make new friends.
Attendees visited three Emmaus communities in Romania during the Assembly, where they were given tours by companions and learned about how the different communities operate.
One of the rural communities they visited was entirely self-sustaining. Companions living there learned farming skills and now grow and farm all their food on site. Surplus food is sold to maintain the community, and there are plans to have a farm shop. Tour guides highlighted the importance of community, especially sharing meals together, as a key part of recovering from homelessness.
Stewart, a companion from Emmaus Merseyside, described the trip as amazing. He said: “I thank everybody for giving me the opportunity to come here and see another different way of life in Romania.”
The knowledge, experience and passion shown throughout the three days continues to inspire the movement in the UK, as they bring the energy and enthusiasm back to their own communities.
Emmaus in the UK is part of a worldwide movement. Find out more about Emmaus Europe and Emmaus International.