By helping others we can help ourselves
Emmaus is a politically and religiously non-aligned international movement, whose mission is to help those in need and thus promote social justice and peace. There are 313 Emmaus groups spread over 36 countries. The Emmaus groups work with and for the poorest in society, to fight against the causes of exclusion in a wide variety of different economic and political contexts. A common goal is to set up financial activities with the most marginalised in society to work for access to fundamental rights for all. To show that through collective action that there are alternatives to injustice.
Emmaus was the first group which collected things people did not want and gave them new life at flea markets.
The Emmaus movement was founded in November 1949 as a result of a meeting between a privileged man, who had become aware of his social responsibilities faced with injustice, and a man who had no reason to go on living. They decided to bring together their wills and actions in order to help each other and those who were suffering, in the belief that you can save yourself by saving others (Emmaus International).
Today Emmaus groups still collect things people don’t want and recycle them. Some Emmaus groups do farming and livestock rearing, literacy projects, defence of human rights, training, housing, environmental protection and healthcare projects.
Glimpses into some Emmaus groups.
At Emmaus Åland in Finland Emmaus collect and sell used building supplies. The center is run by people who have been unemployed and have not found other work. Emmaus Oxford offers night shelter for homeless people and in many Emmaus communities around the world not only alcoholics and drug addicts get a second chance but also people coming out of prison find reason to live. An ex-convict came to Emmaus Oxford directly from prison:
I am getting on really well at Emmaus – and they have given me the opportunity to be able to do things because there is no pressure to move on. I think also we have to get to a point in ourselves where it feels like the right time. I think we need to be able to take a step back and see what might have a detrimental impact and what might have a positive impact. Living on my own would have had a detrimental impact but I think I am getting strong enough and confident enough now, and I am starting to feel more prepared to move on when I am ready. So the future that I couldn’t see seems quite clear now – I have actually got some direction in life. Hopefully with the help of Emmaus I can go a long way.
Emma is thankful for the chances she has been able to get because of Emmaus Oxford:
I’ve been with Emmaus for about 2. years now. My main job is minor restoration and painting old furniture – bringing an old brown bit of furniture back to life. I’ve found I have a talent with my painting and waxing and am very proud of what I turn out. I’m really enjoying this and hope it might be something I can do profession-ally in the future. Emmaus has really helped me, I get lots of support and encouragement for the good things I do. I would probably still be on the streets struggling if it wasn’t for Emmaus. Emmaus has brought me hope for a brighter future. Thanks Emmaus!”
Emmaus-Westervik in Ekenäs, Finland where I have worked for 12 years have made a fun and informative film in Swedish.
- Ellsworth homeless shelter reflects on 20 years, turnaround in formerly icy relationship with city (bangordailynews.com)