Remar's History


The Remar movement worldwide is made up of 17 different Associations in Spain and over 40 more in other countries.  In order to really grasp what it is all about, we need to realise that all these different Associations share the same history.
It all begins in the city of Vitoria (in Alava, Spain) in the year 1982, in the first weeks of summer.  A certain family has recently experienced a deep spiritual change in their lives, and they are no longer conformed to just enjoying their privileged personal and family situation, but want to be able to help others.  In this way they can put into practice the teachings they have received through the Gospel about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners and the sick, and showing mercy towards the needy.
So they put their money, possessions and lives to the service of their neighbour, in obedience to the call which they feel strongly in their hearts.  The initial nucleus is formed by Miguel Diez, his wife Mari Carmen Jimenez, and her two brothers, Javier and Angel.  They begin by receiving marginalised people in their own house, and later at a farm which they acquire for this purpose, near to Vitoria in a little village called Mendiola.  Here the first rehabilitation centre is opened.
Soon other people join the movement, and in 1984 the first women’s centre is opened in Pangua, near to Vitoria.  This same year activities begin in the province of Guipuzcoa, in San Sebastian and Andoain.  The first small businesses are created, with the sole purpose of supporting the social work of the Association.  These are a supermarket, a second-hand shop, a rag recycling centre, and an agency for cleaning services.  Volunteers offer to work in these businesses.  As the movement grows, a decision is made to give it a formal structure, and the first set of statutes are presented to the Spanish government in November 1984.  The Association becomes officially recognized and legalized as from 14th February, 1985.
In 1985 the work becomes established in these two provinces, and we also begin in the province of Vizcaya, which is from where the greatest number of people comes for help.  At this stage we have the capacity to help about one hundred people at a time, and the majority of them tend to be young people with drug problems who have been unable to find the help they need in the government centres.  The government is unable to cope with a problem of such magnitude at this time in Spain, but we were able to very timely offer our services.  The Authorities in Guipuzcoa and also in Alava cede to us the use of various properties, which enables us to improve the quality and capacity of the help we can give to the beneficiaries.

In 1986 many young people begin to achieve personal goals in their rehabilitation, and decide to stay on to work in favour of others.  Workshops for training in professional skills are initiated, as are camps for young people and adults, and new centres are opened in the Autonomous Communities of Catalonia and Madrid, where we send some of the young people who are now rehabilitated.
In 1987 activities in these new areas are consolidated, and the corresponding Associations are created.  1988 is also a year of growth, with new centres opening in Castilla-Leon.  We take over the running of a centre which Teen Challenge is no longer able to maintain, in the village of Momediano (Burgos).  In 1989 activities begin in Andalusia, Asturias and the Balearic Islands.
In 1990 the Association REMAR ESPAÑA is officially constituted.  This Association will have a coordinating role and will be the driving force in many activities which the autonomous associations cannot carry out alone.  Work begins in Aragon, the Canary Islands, Navarre and the area of Valencia.  The first centres for families are opened, where married couples who had separated are brought together again and they begin to restore their relationships, previously destroyed by the effects of marginalisation.
The centres have gradually become more established, more well-known and with a greater intake capacity.  They provide numerous services to society, such as help and follow-up for people in penitentiary centres, an alternative venue for the carrying out of prison sentences and probationary periods out, etc.
Also in 1990, in response to a specific invitation, we begin our international work, in the neighbouring country of Portugal, with a pioneer group who set up the centres there, which produce a great response and amazing results.
During 1991 the work expands in general in the communities of Castilla-Leon and Andalusia.  We begin activities in the Murcia community, in Extremadura, La Rioja and Castilla-La Mancha.  On the international front the Association extends to Peru and the United Kingdom.
In 1992 all these centres develop and we reach a capacity of 3,000 places in the whole of Spain.  We begin to open out into the Galician community, and the international vision also grows stronger with the work reaching Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina and Nicaragua in Central and South America, Chicago in the United States, and Switzerland in the European setting.
In 1993 the Association becomes firmly established throughout Spain, with the opening of centres in those communities and provinces where previously none existed: Malaga, Cordoba, Ceuta and Cantabria.  At the international level activities begin in Ecuador and El Salvador.  We also begin in Austria.
1994 is a year of decision.  For eight years we had been receiving a call for help from Burkina Faso in West Africa.  But we had been postponing the matter because we knew it would mean a leap to a new stage.  But we can put it off no longer. And we send a team to this country, which is amongst the very poorest in the whole world.  Expansion into more American countries also continues and we open centres in Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile and Honduras.  The activities within Remar change radically, as we face up to the responsibility of supporting the social work in so many countries.  There is a great demand for both material help and workers, and all this implies a double challenge for the Association in the developed countries:  the maintenance and development of the national work and the acquiring of provisions to send to the work now initiated in the less-favoured countries. We begin to run free meals centres in places where people are dying of hunger, open orphanages to which the government authorities of the countries send us children, and set up schools, etc.
In 1995 we begin to extend through Africa to the countries bordering on Burkina Faso, opening the work in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.  In Europe centres are set up in Germany, France and Italy.  In America centres in Panama, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.  
In 1996, in Africa we open in Equatorial Guinea, and in America in Belize, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and Paraguay.  All these new countries mean a huge effort because it is no longer a question of opening an information office for possible admission but rather, almost from the very first moment, in each country we find ourselves overwhelmed by the immense need around us.  Together with the importance of strengthening and developing the work in the countries where we are already working.  We begin to send out humanitarian aid containers, loaded with food, clothing, all kinds of machinery with which we assist the national associations in setting up workshops, schools, medical centres, etc.
In 1997, and principally from our association in Portugal, we initiate centres in Angola, Mozambique and South Africa, almost simultaneously, thus expanding the work of Remar into another problematic area of Africa.  The demand for workers is even more critical during these years, because the work in the newly-opened countries is too new to be able to produce all the people needed to maintain all the new services which have been launched.  And so, faced with such a demand, the association in the countries where we have been active for a longer time has to make a special effort to send out volunteer workers.
In 1998 more European centres are opened, in Belgium, Croatia and Holland. Also in Colombia and Venezuela in South America, and In Nigeria, Africa.  All the Spanish-speaking countries have been reached, with the exception of Cuba, where we do not find any way of beginning the work, because of the particular make up of the country.  
In 1999 another big step is taken as we enter the Asian continent, opening centres in Hong-Kong (China) and the Philippines.
In 2000 and 2001 we see considerable expansion in the African continent, with new centres opening in Togo, Cameroon, Botswana, Niger, Nigeria, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. We also initiate in 2001 activities in the Russian Federation.  This year the Federation of Remar Associations (F.A.R.) is created, with the aim of coordinating effectively and serving as a meeting point for all the associations which form a part of the REMAR movement.
In 2002 there is another important step with the arrival of REMAR in the fifth continent, as we begin our activities in Australia.  And we continue to open centres in new African countries, such as Benin and the Congo.
These are twenty years of history during which time the REMAR associations have been able to be of benefit to some 200,000 people all over the world, bringing a small grain of sand amidst a mountain of injustice and human misery.  In the hope of continuing with this vital work so that many more can reach a level well above that of their basic needs.
Our aim is to succeed in getting justice to reign in a world which, as a consequence of its struggle to gain maximum benefits, does not pause to consider the desperate plight of so many around whose basic needs are not even met.

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