Intermediate School Pupils Also Demand to Stop Poverty!

Citizenship Education Programme with ATD Fourth World

What is dignity, poverty, discrimination? Pupils from a 2nd year intermediate school, Camille Claudel (Montigny les Cormeilles, 95), worked on those issues through a citizenship education programme over a whole term with their history, geography and art teachers, together with ATD Fourth World.

“This is a very positive project”, Marie Cordelier, the school’s art teacher explained. “The pupils first met a voluntary worker with ATD Fourth World. Then they worked on a press review with the teacher-librarian. They also studied the issue of poverty in history and geography, and they used the medium of abstract art to illustrate a sentence they chose on poverty, having reflected carefully on this. They gave a talk on the theme of prejudice and how to challenge and overcome this.”

And what was the outcome? Well, we managed to produce 26 brightly-coloured pictures, each with a sentence addressed to the viewer beginning with, “Since poverty is first and foremost a human issue….”. The sentences were, in fact, quotations from Fr Joseph Wresinski, who himself experienced extreme poverty and who founded ATD Fourth World sixty years ago.

In the presence of Jean-Noël Carpentier MP and Mayor of Montigny, Madame Louisette Esor, the school headmistress, their teachers and some ATD Fourth World members, the pupils proudly presented their work at the launch of the exhibition in the school on 23 March 2017.

“In relation to history and geography, we watched a film about the hard working conditions of people living in poverty in India. All that started us thinking about poverty here in our own country and throughout the world”, explained Ali, summing up the journey taken by the group.

 

“Nobody should be accused of feeling guilty about their own poverty. It is fundamental that each person’s dignity be respected”, the Mayor stressed when recalling Joseph Wresinski’s legacy, and so appropriate in this year when ATD Fourth World is celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. “You are aware that Father Joseph lived in Montigny les Cormeilles, aren’t you? We have placed a commemorative plaque in front of his house and a street bears his name”, M. Carpentier added before congratulating the pupils on their work. “You have grown up into fine citizens. Now we can rest assured that you are going to follow in his footsteps!”

The exhibition, presented as a gift to ATD Fourth World, is part of the global ‘Stop Poverty’ campaign and will stimulate all those who come to see it, in the schools and in all the locations where it will be presented, to reflect more deeply on the reality of poverty and how it can be overcome.

What Our Pupils Shared

“The worst thing is for any of our fellow citizens to be despised” – Violet is my favourite colour. I represented a girl, all by herself, despised because of her origin.

“Loving to know, knowing to love” – When you love someone, it means you know that person, but you may also know someone else who can love that same person.

“It is much more pleasant to give than to receive. At the end of the day, receiving handouts can feel shameful.”- When you are receiving handouts, it is not as good as being able to give to others.

“The biggest scandal in the world is not poverty, but the indifference of the wealthy to it”- Everybody should be treated equally and even if someone has less money than others, that person should be respected. It is the same respect we show to our parents.