29 June 2018

Amazing! How wonderful it was to see the 2 EMIN buses united again. 66 days later, 32 countries later, a gazillion experiences later, the 2 EMIN buses got together yesterday in Brussels, the city of departure and home coming!

It feels truly impossible to exchange and share all our stories. The experiences we all had were so rich, so exciting, so diverse… We have been working on Minimum Income Schemes for several years, we know the data, the legislation, in all the European countries. But having had the opportunity to meet the men, women, families, receiving (or needing, but not receiving) MIS in all the countries really casted an entirely different light on the realities in all our countries. Unfortunately, as Fintan Farrell pointed out, the realities we met were often worse than we imagined. But the energy, courage and hope we encountered also exceeded our expectations!

For our final event, we had a campaigning moment on the Place Sainte Catherine in Brussels. The square was crowded and covered in sunlight. The two buses were parked in front of the Cathedral (a church where undocumented migrants found a safe space not that long ago).  So great it was to campaign together with both teams, of BUS 1 and BUS 2, to meet again after such an intensive journey. And to welcome volunteers, friends, allies,… who have been part of this journey in one way or another.

Also the Dutch MEP Jeroen Lenaers came by, and shared messages of solidarity. Pointing out that the European Union should be more than a market focused Union, that Europe urgently needs to travel into the direction of a Social Europe. And that the European Pillar of Social Rights is a good framework to foster progress. He invited us in the European Parliament to share our experiences. To be continued!

It was very nice as well to meet other Belgian organisations (Réseau Wallon de Lutte Contre la Pauvreté, the Belgian Anti-Poverty Network, vzw Wieder, Global Social Justice…) on the square. They told us that, although they were not (often) physically present during our trip, following our blog made them feel travelling with us.

After our public event, we had a closing moment in a bar nearby. Philippe and Marcel, the drivers from BUS 1 and BUS 2 told us that this experience was unforgettable for them, challenged and changed their views on poverty, on social issues, and that they feel part of a European family.

I want to use the opportunity of this post of the last day to say THANK YOU to everyone involved, everybody who made this journey an unforgettable experience: all the volunteers and colleagues on the bus, our drivers, (who were so much more than ‘drivers’, but part of the team and centipedes), the national teams, who did an amazing job, the partners, but most of all, the project manager Fintan Farrell, who initiated this journey, and inspired us all. We rebaptised the ‘EMIN Godfather’ yesterday into Fintan Fire. Thanxx a million, Fintan, for making this unforgettable journey happen!

This was the final bus stop, but definitely not the terminal of our journey. More than ever, we feel the need, the urge and the fire to fight for decent minimum income schemes, for everybody who needs it, as long as they need it!

So, dear friends, we’ll be back!