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Neïl Dauxois, on his way to Jerusalem

© Emmanuel Foudrot

I want to meet the world » : this is how the young Neïl Dauxois presents his trip. An above all human adventure, departing from Vénissieux and heading to Jerusalem, a path that he will cover while walking.

At 25, he decided to radically change his life for a year, in order to ” no longer be locked into (y)a routine “. ” I’m clearly stepping out of my comfort zone, it’s quite a challenge I’m setting myself. I’m not going there in a religious way. I go there to meet new people, different cultures. »

He therefore chose to travel, alone, more than 4,000 km, criss-crossing Northern Italy, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories to finally arrive in Jerusalem.

This desire was born in 2019: he then flew to the West Bank to be a facilitator in the Askar refugee camp. “ A Palestinian activist has created a space, a bit like a social center, to offer entertainment for children, with sports, practical work… I went there for a month. I visited Jerusalem at that time and I liked it a lot and that’s why I want to go back. »

He voluntarily chose to travel through all the Balkan countries during his journey. ” It is a region with a very rich history. He also preferred to avoid certain conflict zones such as Syria. ” It is complicated to return to the country. Since I’m doing the whole trip on foot, it can be dangerous. So I’m going to go through Cyprus. I will take the boat to southern Turkey, travel the island from north to south, then take a boat to Lebanon. »

Here too, his journey is likely to be strewn with a few pitfalls. The country is indeed suffering from an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis and will therefore have to abandon the march again for a short period of time. He will then take the plane, direction Amman, the capital of Jordan, since ” the borders between Lebanon and Israel are closed “. He will then resume his journey on foot, to the border of the West Bank and will finally arrive in Jerusalem.

Wear his heart on his sleeve

The Route de Jerusalem association, which has accompanied groups of walkers since 1970, helped Neïl in his preparations. ” I traced the route alone, but they advised me of places to pass in relation to the contacts they may have on site. »

This aconfessional and apolitical association advocates “ sharing between all religions, Jerusalem is a symbol of peace and also of conflict, an important place for the Jewish, Muslim and Catholic religion », and that is why the young plumber by profession chose to call on them. ” This idea, I also want to share it in my trip “, he confides to us.

The young man, quite athletic, claims not to have prepared more than that before this long walk which will take him between ten and twelve months, he estimates. But Neïl Dauxois is not at his first attempt. Always accompanied by the Route de Jerusalem association, three years ago, he took part in the project ” Make your way “. ” We left from Nice to San Remo in Italy, on foot, to meet associations that help migrants at the border. It lasted two weeks. »

He plans to walk about 30 kilometers a day to reach his destination. Even if he knows that the first days are likely to be hard, he hopes to adapt fairly quickly, and take his time, if he feels the need. ” I want to give myself the opportunity to stay longer in cities or countries. »

Equipped with a backpack weighing about ten kilos, with a sleeping bag, a stove, a tent and some clothes, he started his journey on May 15, in front of the town hall of Vénissieux. ” I come from Lyon 3, but I have always spent a lot of time in Vénissieux. All my family and all my friends come from here. I can even say that I know Vénissieux better than Lyon 3. »

His fears and his hopes

Even if he seems sure of himself and of his trip, Neïl still has some fears about his adventure. ” I dread encounters, which is odd since that’s also the purpose of my trip. I will appeal to the hospitality of the people I will meet. I’m afraid they’ll be suspicious. I am a man, alone, who walks to Jerusalem. I put myself in their shoes and I say to myself, if I see someone alone making this trip, will I welcome them into my home? »

But he has provided some tips to facilitate contact with the people he will meet. ” A cart that I am going to pull will join me on the way. It will be in the effigy of Road to Jerusalem, it can give people confidence and create discussion. Friends and members of the association should also walk with me for a while, it can facilitate contact. I also bring a tent, so I can sleep in people’s garden, if they don’t want to sleep at home. »

His relatives met Sunday morning in front of the town hall of Vénissieux to say a last goodbye to him before the start of his journey. © Emmanuel Foudrot

Even if he wants to make a total cut with social networks, he plans to keep a link with his family. ” My parents have always encouraged me. My mother is very worried, my father on his side pushed me, so I will keep them informed of my progress. I will also write a small logbook, on my encounters, my adventures, which I will regularly share with the association. “For his departure, his family and friends have also planned a little surprise for him: a pocket with little words, “ to give him strength when he needs it“, says one of his relatives.

While his expedition is just beginning, he is already impatient to discover these new regions of the world. “ We live by imitation and there, I will lose my bearings, no longer be in the shackles of the French mentality. That’s what’s exciting! I can’t wait to see what impact this trip will have on me. »

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