Like apartheid and slavery, poverty is not inevitable. We can put an end to it if we come together to learn from people living in poverty how to escape the cycle of social exclusion and how to build communities that leave no one behind.
The year 2017 marks the centennial of the birth of Joseph Wresinski, whose life was shaped by the experience of intolerable poverty. It also marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of ATD Fourth World which Wresinski created with people living in extreme poverty, and which now works in 34 countries. In addition, 2017 will also be the 30th anniversary of the call to action to all defenders of human rights which became the World Day for Overcoming Poverty in 1987, and was later recognized by the United Nations in 1992. Wresinski’s call to action was:
“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”
People and organizations inspired by this call to action are now launching a global campaign for 2017 to overcome poverty and build peace. This worldwide campaign will consist of several actions, including:
- Compiling and making known a diversity of stories that show that poverty and social exclusion can be overcome, which in turn builds peace.
- Shows and concerts that celebrate the courage and efforts of people living in poverty throughout history, their songs of resistance and hope: emerging from silence and joining our voices together.
- Spreading a call to action entitled, “What can we do to leave no one behind?” with the support of a wide range of people and organizations.
- Conferences and seminars around the theme: Imagining, alongside those in poverty, a society without poverty.
- From October 14 to 17, 2017, a simultaneous event around the world, including at the headquarters of the United Nations, letting those who resist poverty in their daily lives be heard, broadcast on many radio stations, television, and on the internet.
Isabelle Pypaert Perrin says, “During 2017, what we would like everyone to do is to reach out to others. Joseph Wresinski often said, ‘Nothing without you; nothing without the others. This is what Mr. Parfait has done in the Central African Republic. He has had a very hard life and he goes out of his way to reach out to others whose lives are even harder. He says, ‘The worst part of poverty is that our intelligence is counted for nothing’.”
Upcoming Campaign Events
In the Netherlands: a project about peace through recognizing each person’s dignity
- “For as long as extreme poverty exists at the bottom of the ladder, our societies will not be founded on peace. There will be only peace for certain people, a selective peace.”
- – Joseph Wresinski, 31 August 1984
This quotation was chosen by a Dutch woman living in poverty as one she hopes to see inscribed on the wall of peace at the Titus Bransma Memorial in Nijmegen. One of Wresinski’s quotations will be added to the memorial on 11 February 2017, symbolising the contribution of people in poverty to peace. To choose one quote, ATD Fourth World will hold a seminar with people in poverty at its centre in Wijhe on 1-5 August. Other consultations will take place in schools, with migrants, with young people, and in different community groups.
In Switzerland, ATD Fourth World is producing a musical performance in partnership with composer and orchestra conductor Jean-Marie Curti. In this multilingual country, the goal is to use dance, music, and mime to express without words the story of a family enduring the humiliations of persistent poverty day in and day out. The script will highlight the family’s resistance to indignity, and the possibilities for acts of solidarity. Performances are scheduled to take place from 17 Sept. to 12 Nov. 2017 in Basel, Fribourg, Geneva, Gland, Lausanne, Lucerne, Meyrin, Olten, Treyvaux, Winterthour, and Yverdon.
The Revue Quart Monde magazine will publish (in French only) an issue in December 2016 focused on reactions to Wresinski’s thinking from people who did not know him personally and consider him to have influenced their research or their understanding about the roots of social exclusion and how to overcome it.
If you would like to get involved in this campaign, please contact ATD Fourth World in your country or region by following the links on this page.