How did it all begin?

by Michael Thiele – the first president of the Caravan 2000

Perhaps you still remember the summer of 1996. Many people were arguing about what countries were allowed to be part of the European Union and these arguments were becoming very strange.


What had begun as the idea of a European Community, which had never existed before, fell apart in endless public discussions and arguments over details that almost seemed irrelevant.
The three of us (Udo Keidel, Hanjo Diekmann and I) were sitting together one fine afternoon during a visit to the Italian city of Assisi and talking about our feelings of frustration because of these discussions. Was that really all there was to it? Were the efforts at making a European Union to have no positive social consequences at all? And certainly no thought had been given to those who are excluded from society - the disabled, the foreign, the homeless.


It was then that it came to us - the idea for CARAVAN 2000, a journey through Europe in the name of diversity and understanding. Not quite in the form it is in now, but still fairly specific: it would be a caravan journey from Hadamar, a town in Germany to Assisi in Italy, designed as a way of communicating the needs of all those who had no-one to speak out on their behalf. We wanted to organise meetings in different places to make people sit up, look and listen. These meetings should help us understand the lives of disabled and disadvantaged people in Europe, who are caught between exclusion and integration. These encounters would offer the opportunity for many people from different countries and cultures to come together in mutual respect. They would also help to promote respect for the differences in our daily dealings with one another.


Since then, our journey has passed some important milestones. We are creating a stable network of cooperation and solidarity in Europe, developing a process that helps us to perceive Europe and our world as a place to share in harmony.


This is a historic opportunity which we should grasp – and grasp with all the power we can muster together. And whatever our feelings about the Euro were - well, we have the Euro to thank for it.

 

 

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The translation of this website into Easy Read was made possible through funding from the "Youth in Action" programme.

The creation of this website was funded with support from the "Youth in Action" programme.

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