The Emmaus Pereira and Piura groups, working together under our struggle for Peace, Freedom of Movement and Universal Citizenship, have helped bring people from two South American countries, Peru and Colombia, closer together. The objective of this initiative is to develop further integration and cooperation between our two communities for the benefit of our citizens.
This initiative to unite our strength was designed with the idea that South American countries should have the same goal for their growth policies: know-how about cultural and social matters in order to launch cultural programmes and development projects.
What Emmaus proposed to the two town halls was to focus on the evolution of and commitment to bilateral development thanks to technical cooperation. We proposed decentralised humanitarian action in each town hall and a sharing of best practices with others for the benefit of all. We are trying to improve the well-being of citizens by ensuring their town halls make the best use of each others’ skills, experience and human/material resources.
Gustavo Cano Arango for Emmaus Pereira
Juan Melquiades for Emmaus Piura
The mayors of the town halls lent us everything we required but they also visited their opposite number accompanied by certain government secretaries. It should be noted that the travel costs were covered by the mayors themselves, they were not paid for by the town halls.
The first meeting of mayors took place in Colombia in Celia Risaralda. The mayor of Arena Piura (Peru), Doctor Neylly Harrison Talledo met with the mayor of La Celia, Doctor Adrián Serna Marín and the Emmaus committee was there to provide support during this meeting. It was thanks to Emmaus that this event was possible.
Six months after the first meeting we launched this initiative, meeting with the mayors in Peru and Colombia and talking about twinning the two towns for mutual benefit. A road map for our work was created and sent to the mayors for them to analyse and add any topics they wished to focus on.
This is how the first visit of the mayor of La Arena Piura to La Celia Risaralda in Colombia was organised; the two parties discussed cultural development initiatives and a project for the treatment of wastewater.
Two months later the mayor of La Celia returned the favour and visited Piura along with the Secretary for Rural and Community Development and the Secretary of Government and Administrative Services.
The days ran from 9am to 6pm during this visit and focused on important topics.
- Community, social, political, cultural and rural development; education, the environment, the public administration, youth and governance.
- Both mayors looked at the possibility of copying successful projects ran in the other town, sharing experience so that the implementation would be more fluid in the other town. Field visits were carried out to see certain successful projects first hand.
- Protocol: the two parties exchanged gifts and praised one another. Both the two mayors and the other civil servants present showed commitment to move forward on the suggested topics and to further the level of integration.
The next meeting is scheduled for August in La Arena Piura, Peru. To goal is to look at certain successful projects first hand in order to continue with the integration of our twinned towns.
The plan is to discuss a cultural exchange for the two towns which would involve a festival of dance, music, crafts and food as well as stories about local myths and legends. The parties will also discuss a project for a water outlet for irrigation where the water is captured from the river, purified, distributed to households, used and then treated before release.
With this project we are ‘Crossing Borders’ for the integration and union of two South American towns.
Companions from Emmaus Pereira receiving the Citizens Medal, the highest award the mayor of La Arena Piura can hand out. The companions were also named as ‘illustrious sons’ of La Arena Piura.
To continue supporting any cities that ask to be part of the twinning scheme in order to improve the cultural and development initiatives across borders by providing support and guidance to those who ask for it.
In 2019 we were able to complete the work schedule as far as it was planned. For reasons already familiar to all (pandemic, compulsory lockdown, etc.), this year we have only been able to hold virtual meetings (3), but the project is developing normally; we have 5 applications from 10 municipalities for twinning advice, but we are waiting for open skies to be able to continue.
1. In Arena Piura an irrigation system was launched for seeds and an environmental education project was also implemented
2. La Celia applied to the Colombian government for the status of ‘Regional Capital for Dynamic Community Culture’
3. A student exchange programme will be launched between the two cities
4. A cultural visit is being discussed - it would be called ‘The International Week for Dynamic Community Culture’ and would include examples of initiatives in both of the two towns
5. We have received several requests to be part of the twinning scheme from the town halls in both countries
Yes, we have had an impact outside of the group - decision makers are now asking us for support in order to implement these initiatives in their cities.
The initiative is working but scaling up is just a question of time - we have already received 5 requests so next year we will have another 10 twinned cities and that’s just counting the requests received thus far.