Bearers of Peace Around the World
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Letter to Friends around the World # 77

On every continent, and in all our neighbourhoods, men and women refuse to accept the daily reality of violence and strive to create opportunities to meet each other and recognise each other's common humanity. Are they not the first actors for peace? We need to find the courage to break the silence and make known their acts and their struggle to build peace.

When children grow up in extreme poverty, in areas that are the most neglected and forgotten both in the North and the South, their parents tell us that they find themselves in a world "where there is injustice and violence at every turn." Amongst the most visible forms of violence are armed conflicts and gang violence. But talk to children and their families living in these situations and they often speak of more subtle acts of violence. This makes me think of Arsène, a young boy living on a rubbish dump. Walking around in his barefeet, he has cut them and they have now become infected. He has taught himself to walk on the outside of his soles so that his open sores do not touch the dirty ground.

It makes me think, too, of a mother who lives in a neighborhood that will soon be "cleared out". She told us: "We live with the threat of eviction hanging over our heads. It's very hard for my youngest son, who says, 'When I grow up, I'll get a bulldozer and demolish the mayor's house.' I don't want my son to grow up with such hatred. I want him and his friends to grow up with something else in their hearts, and in their minds too. That is why, even with all our worries, I'm happy to support the street library so that it can still come here.”

Deep within them, the poorest carry a sense of peace that the world does not see. Together, let us make sure that these bearers of peace around the world are not left in the shadows. The date is set for 17th of October, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Eugen Brand

Director General, International Movement ATD Fourth World