PATH Seminar in Spain

From 10th to 15th March the first official seminar of PATH and Route to Connect took place in Northern Catalonia, hosted by SCI Catalunya, in the border town La Jonquera next to France.

Photo took in PATH Seminar in Spain, March 2017. Photo credit: Suvi Helko

It was a seminar focused on the Spanish Civil War, which was for us a starting point from where we opened our perspective and analysed the global consequences, dangers, risks and best practices on forced migrations. From there we refocused and closed perspective again and reflected together on the current situation and the refugee “crisis”.

Looking back at the Spanish Civil War we recognised so many patterns that are being repeated nowadays: the incapability of governments of acting efficiently in front of an humanitarian crisis, the misuse of information and the manipulation of the reality, the polarization of societies and the rise of racism… the nonsense of war when those who cause it say it’s done to achieve peace. Sharing thoughts with other participants, we could not help but  feel frustrated. But most of all, we felt the urgent need of finding a way to push things in the opposite direction.

At the same time, we learned about the Maternity of Elna and the story of Elisabeth Eidenbenz, an SCI volunteer that moved to Spain during the Civil War and carried out humanitarian aid tasks. In 1939 Elizabeth helped many Republicans  flee to Rosselló and afterwards, seeing the horror of the camps where many of them were forced to stay, she founded the Maternity of Elna, "an island of peace in an ocean of destruction" (described in her own words). Thanks to her work together with other SCI volunteers, many Catalan and Spanish women could give birth in a safe space with the proper care needed.

It was inspiring to learn about good practices of international solidarity that emerged from the civil society during the Spanish Civil War. It was important to remember that behind every human tragedy there is a political responsibility and many global consequences. It was empowering to do it together with a group of participants from so many different and enriching backgrounds. And it is necessary that together we find new ways to have an impact on our present and create a more peaceful future. It is time to learn from the past and stop making the same mistakes! Here the all pictures of the seminar.



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