"Creating spaces for learning together"
Letter to Friends around the World # 79

When people living in poverty are deprived of the opportunity to meet people from the opposite end of the social spectrum, extreme poverty is the result. It is therefore
vital that we all seek to forge such opportunities so that we can all benefit from the experience and the knowledge of the most disadvantaged. Failing to do so, and thus falling short of the human ideal of living side by side in justice and in peace, constitutes a violence done to our own humanity.

Getting to know and understand each other can be a source of profound joy for all those willing to engage in a true meeting of minds. Given that we all work at different
speeds, real respect means many things: it means not finishing the phrase of someone who has trouble doing so; it means not cutting someone’s thoughts midstream; it means not trying to rewrite an idea that may appear at first to be confused; it means not being afraid to embrace the uncomfortable silences that are part and parcel of thinking things through and understanding.

And yet today so many families, as in the past, are torn apart, displaced, forced to move on and treated as strangers in their own country. And yet today so many families disappear from the face of the earth without any recognition of their intelligence, their efforts, their pains, their hopes and their fears. In response, we must fight for projects and programmes that bring families back together and link different generations so that children can learn of, better understand and better appreciate the daily struggles of their parents.

Just as a crop harvested in times of plenty is stored for times of famine, so we have a duty to safeguard the stories of those who stand tall in the face of the violence inflicted by extreme poverty. We must redouble our efforts to work with those whose voice is seldom heard so that future generations can draw strength and inspiration from them and continue to strive for justice and peace.

Eugen Brand,
Director General International Movement ATD Fourth World