“The Road Just Stopped and No One Else Gave a Damn”

This is the second in a series of videos about the life of Mary Rabagliati. At the age of 20, she was one of the first volunteers to join Joseph Wresinski in founding what would become ATD Fourth World. He was based in Noisy-le-Grand, France, a suburb just twelve kilometres east of Paris. When she first arrived to join him there, she recalled:

“I got off the bus and walked down the tarmac road. Suddenly the tarmac stopped. The road became only a dusty path full of potholes. There was no running water or electricity. I later learned that the postal delivery, and all the town’s services, also stopped at the edge of the tarmac. There were about 280 families there at that time. […] They were dumped at the edge of French society — these families faced social exclusion as much as they faced poverty. […] There was no rubbish collection. Everything just stopped and people were abandoned. No one gave a damn what happened to them.”

In this video, Mary explains how she decided to join these families and looks back at some of the first challenges she faced with them. Wresinski asked her “to live right in the middle of these families, and to do it in a certain way: to gain the respect of the families, and also to gain respect for them in society. I argued with everything he said! But no one living there had invited me to come! They would insult me all day long; ‘What are you doing here? No one asked you to come.’”

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This and the content of other videos in the series will be published in Joyous Revolution: The Girl from Guildford and People the World Forgot. [Publication pending]