Martin Kalisa - Deputy Director - ATD Fourth World
Martin Kalisa first learned about ATD Fourth World when he was in Belgium doing academic research on immigration. Martin’s painful experience living through the Rwandan genocide had left him with a deep appreciation for human dignity and what it means to be deprived of it. Given ATD’s focus on respect for the dignity of all people, he soon joined as an ally.
Work in Belgium and the United Kingdom
In 1999, Martin and his wife Glycella both became ATD Volunteer Corps members. In Belgium, Martin supported the French-speaking ATD Fourth World People’s University. Then in 2004, Martin and his family moved to Great Britain to work at the Frimhurst Family House. There he discovered to what extent the right to live as a family was denied to those hardest hit by poverty. Motivated by his commitment to this issue, he completed a PhD thesis on the criminalisation of poverty in the UK. In 2008, he joined ATD Fourth World UK’s national coordination team.
Regional Team for Africa
In 2014, Martin became part of ATD’s regional coordination team for Africa. Since then, he has lived in Senegal, Kenya, and Rwanda. After thirty years away, he rediscovered the harshness of poverty there. At the same time he saw how, even in extreme poverty, people make tremendous efforts to give their children a better future. During his many years with ATD, Martin has realized how the suffering caused by extreme poverty crosses linguistic, cultural, and ethnic barriers.
“A family beyond borders”
Despite the many challenges Africa faces, Martin agreed to join the International Leadership Team in 2021 because he believes ATD Fourth World is a family beyond borders. He is humbled by the responsibility he now faces and counts on the support of all ATD members.