Shared Commitment, Shared Leadership

An international gathering will take place at ATD Fourth World’s International Centre in France from 11 – 17 October. This gathering is in the context of ATD’s shared leadership and it will bring together more than 80 ATD members from 11 different countries: 40 Activists, 30 Allies, and 15 ATD Volunteer Corps members.

ATD Fourth World was founded 60 years ago by a group of people who shared the same desire to take action against extreme poverty. Since then, the organisation has grown thanks to people from all walks of life who are determined to struggle together against the devastation caused by extreme poverty. In keeping with ATD’s vision of shared leadership, the gathering is one of many ways for members to contribute to a larger consideration of the organization’s governance, evolution, and goals.

Today as in the past, ATD members who chose to work alongside individuals, families, and communities experiencing extreme poverty find that their family and friends see their choice as surprising and sometimes incomprehensible. Overcoming poverty is a demanding endeavour. It is important for members of ATD Fourth World to find ways to sustain their motivation. Taking time for training is key, as is thinking through work activities with others involved in similar projects. Equally important is creating spaces for members to talk about their own role in developing ATD’s work as a whole. It is also critical to provide Activists and Allies with substantial, long-term support. This gathering will make a significant contribution to building an international movement that truly relies on the participation of each and every one of its members in all aspects of the organization.

“The whole point of inviting members of ATD Fourth World to this international gathering is to think together about where we are as an organization, to assess the progress we have made, to identify our strengths as well as our weaknesses, and to confront the new challenges we are faced with today. We would like to let the realities of life question us and, above all, to let the hope of people living in extreme poverty challenge us to go further. We seek to draw from these considerations a vision of what is essential to our movement going forward.”

Excerpt from the ATD International Leadership Team’s invitation letter.

Shared Leadership

During the four-day meeting, participants will first learn more about the work of ATD Fourth World in such diverse countries as the United States, Honduras, the Philippines, and the Central African Republic. Participants will give presentations about their work, focusing either on a specific project or a particular place where they conduct activities. Then participants will be invited to draw on their own experience to define what ATD Fourth World is about from their perspective, and to reflect on the difficulties they have encountered as well as what support or improvement they might bring to these challenges. Sharing experiences in this manner should enable participants to draw a comprehensive picture of a movement involved in the lives of people and communities experiencing extreme poverty.

In addition, the participants will have the opportunity to consult resources available at the Joseph Wresinski International Centre. People involved in the struggle against extreme poverty across the world have contributed to this memorial centre, which contains archives and research studies as well as other documents and artwork. Visiting the centre will allow participants to broaden their current vision of ATD Fourth World by recognizing that their own story is part of a larger endeavor.

Another important goal of this gathering is to tackle the challenges and questions ATD Fourth World is currently faced with at an international level. The gathering will allow members to refine the organization’s long-term strategies and initiatives in collaboration with its other members around the world.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Finally, participants will have the opportunity to take part in activities commemorating International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17. They will join officials from the City of Paris at the official ceremony to be held at the Commemorative Stone memorial that honours victims of poverty. The goal is to help state officials and other attendees understand how the Commemorative Stone memorial inspires so many people around the world to get involved in the struggle against extreme poverty.

The meeting would not be possible without the work of people who have spent many years making ATD’s training tools more effective and supporting the involvement of ATD Fourth World’s members around the world. At this international gathering, some of ATD’s members from all over the world will get to meet each other again–or perhaps for the first time. The four days of collaborative work will be an opportunity for people from very different countries and backgrounds to exchange ideas and to feel more united in approaching the future and its challenges.