How can there be less violence and more peace in the world? Despite peacekeeping forces, demonstrations, and calls for tolerance and mutual understanding, our societies remain rife with bitterness that gives birth to violence in many forms. This new volume of the Artisans of Peace Overcoming Poverty series continues the stories of partners in peace-building whose efforts have too often remained unrecognised.
Volume 3, Understanding the Violence of Poverty, concludes the series by looking at the many kinds of violence that people living in poverty experience. It also offers a message of hope as it examines ways that they face down violence and establish a measure of peace, whether in the midst of war and oppression or as a response to hatred and discrimination.
The book was written in close collaboration with people living in poverty around the world. Part of ATD Fourth World’s grassroots work involves not only inviting people in poverty to speak about their personal experiences in their own words, but also creating opportunities for them to meet with their peers around the world. In this way, people who know first-hand what it means to be victimised by stereotypes lead us to a new understanding of the violence of poverty. They know what it means to speak up about this violence and they see every day the choices people make to work towards peace. They have a powerful message about how we can work to build a more peaceful world.
Understanding the Violence of Poverty documents how people living in poverty in the Central African Republic have taken great risks to protect one another and to continue organising Street Libraries with children during the civil war that started in 2012. There are stories of abusive child labour in Switzerland and homelessness in the Philippines. Enabling the people who lived through these situations to record their courage and hopes deepens our understanding of our collective history. People in the United Kingdom describe how they have pushed back against a public campaign that reinforces vitriolic stereotypes about people in poverty.
People who live in poverty are feared as a source of violence, banished from public spaces, and kept at bay by gated communities. Few see their efforts to reach out to one another and to show generosity and forgiveness. Hearing first-hand from people living in poverty about the ways they organise mutual support within their own communities is inspiring. In France and Belgium, for example, terrorist attacks have thrown into stark relief the challenges of unifying society without leaving anyone behind. Despite this, residents of diverse backgrounds in low-income districts take part in our People’s University sessions and risk starting dialogues that can open doors and enable people to overcome a sense of despair.
The final chapter of the book shows how ATD Fourth World uses its knowledge about poverty and exclusion to design a unique governance structure. This creative approach ensures that people living in extreme poverty are fully involved in all aspects of decision-making and that all projects remain rooted in their experiences, ideas, and aspirations.
Find out more about volumes 1 and 2 in the Artisans of Peace series:
Artisans of Peace Overcoming Poverty – Volume 1: A People-Centered Movement
Artisans of Peace Overcoming Poverty – Volume 2: Defending Human Rights