Rather than individually joining a large organization already existing, we chose to form our own action group and try to implement an action with our resources. Initially, we mainly collaborated with other local communities, focusing mainly on problems related to children. Then we began to establish direct personal contacts, first in Brazil and then in Indonesia, and the bulk of our activities, from 1994 to 1997, consisted of one-off actions to raise funds for us and send them to local groups. In Brazil, we supported the construction and development of a school complex, from kindergarten to technical apprenticeship, in the Northeast region.
In Indonesia, we supported an orphanage and a boarding school for children from disadvantaged families on the island of Lombok, and then the construction of new buildings in this school. After sanitary facilities, a second school building was built. Little by little, we have refined the conception of the struggles and international solidarity that we wanted to defend, without ever ceasing to question the political stakes of our actions.
It is with this in mind that we have supported a first major initiative: the reconstruction and complete refurbishment of a school in northern Albania, initiated by a group of parents. The inauguration took place in April 2000. In the same year, we developed a twofold project to create day-care centres for children with disabilities in Russia, in the cities of Novgorod and Krasnoyarsk. Just over three years after the first contacts, the collectives finalized these projects: the two daycares were flying on their own and they continue to operate independently. These exchanges led to the support of a one-off project in three Ural orphanages in 2002.
These ongoing collaborations in Russia have enabled us to participate in a movement to build a dynamic structure that promotes emulation and dialogue on disability issues at the national level. As such, we participated in the organization of a major national rally on autism, which was held in Pskov in April 2006. The contacts made during this conference led to new actions: on the one hand, the setting up of a care structure for children with disabilities in the city of Mahachkala, Dagestan, and on the other hand, the organisation of two exchange visits between Russian and Swiss collectives active in the field of disability.
In the summer of 2007, an exchange and sharing trip to Valais took place, as well as an integrative theatre workshop in Ticino. The year 2008 was also an opportunity to support actions in new regions of the world: following the cyclone that devastated southern Burma, we contacted local collectives that were carrying out an emergency action. This allowed us to meet a local group that we supported in the reconstruction of schools: three buildings were built in 2008-9, then two others in the course of 2010. Then, following contacts, we supported a project in Mongolia, where a parents’ gathering wanted to buy two buses to pick up deaf and dumb children who would otherwise not be in school.
After several years of inactivity, during which the UPAM did not support new projects, the founding members decided to withdraw.
Around the elders, a team of young people, most of them students, has been reconstituted, thus forming a heterogeneous group, composed of the two generations, in which the most experienced are the least experienced.
The youth team is at the origin of the rebirth of the collective. It has redesigned the internal structure, graphic identity, principles and values, launched a festival of direct solidarity in a self-managed field in Biel (U-FEST), forged links and supported collectives in Nepal and Laos.