On the way to 2020 - Nerea de Miguel

For this month's 2020 interview, we talked to Nerea de Miguel, who is an activist within VIA - NL (Dutch branch of SCI). Here is what she said about her first workcamps, peace and what 2020 means to her. 

When was your first workcamp?

It took place at the island Galicia (Galiza in local language), Spain. It was an environmental camp, helping out after the infamous oil spill caused by the structurally deficient oil tanker Prestige. The camp was organized by the local community together with non-governmental organizations.

It was not a SCI-camp but as I like volunteering and workcamps, I got active in VIA-NL a few years after moving to the Netherlands and together with my colleagues I coordinated a camp in an asylumseekers-center in Nijmegen (2016). Nowadays I am active in VIA-NL, among others in the group which organizes workcamps.

Last summer I attended a work/study camp in Palestine. It was very interesting to get to know people who live under occupation. We organized a summerschools and gave two lectures each day, we also had to prepare that lectures.

When did you realize that peace is something important?

I lived in a conflict-area, grew up in Basque country. The transition from dictatorship to democracy in Spain did not go smoothly and properly with many unsolved issues. A violent movement arose in Basque country and the state forces kept also violent. When you see people suffering then you realize peace is important. I relate peace directly to social justice. And I like to work on reconstruction, as SCI did and still does. While reconstructing, working on the psychological aspect of memory is very important, because otherwise people still get angry inside.

What are the strengths of SCI according to you?

For me it is internationalism, combined with work with local community by branches. Important matter is that the management within SCI happens on local level.

Challenges of SCI?

We need to get more people aware of the importance of peace. Reach out, finding a bigger audience.

In 2019 VIA-NL will have its 50th year anniversary. Moreover in 1919 the idea of starting SCI was born during a peace-activist meeting in Bilthoven. What is VIA-NL planning to do?

We are going to organize an reunion. In what format I can’t say you now, but I will bring this issue on the agenda of our next monthly meeting! For sure we will meet old activists, feel the spirit of the past, relate it to our activities now and get inspired.

What does the year 2020 mean to you?

The year 2020 is an important milestone, many people have been working for peace and social justice for all these years but there is still a lot of work to do. There are still many conflicts in the world. In general there seems to be a lack of values, people mainly think about their personal comfort.

How do you personally want to celebrate ‘2020’?

As Netherlands is my temporary location it is still unclear where I will be in two years' time, anyway I would like to still keep in touch with VIA-NL. Personally, it would be a great opportunity to find partners back home in my home city, Bilbao.


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