It was my parents' courage that kept us going.
Letter to Friends around the World # 83

At Ouagadougou, Fatimata's words resounded "We often had nothing to eat, even in the evening. But we still went to school nevertheless. I know it was my parents' courage that kept us going. Otherwise it would've been impossible."

That was last March, at one of the international seminars where members of the ATD Fourth World Movement and various partners worked to evaluate the impact of the Millennium Development Goals. This task was carried out with the participation of families living in extreme poverty, who contributed in this way to defining constructive proposals to bring an end to the violence of poverty.  Education turned out to be a central concern.

In both North and South, families confronted by extreme poverty get up every morning to deal with the daily emergencies, and also with this constant anxiety in their hearts: who is going to work with us, join with us in our efforts to ensure our children are able to learn, to exist in the community, to be part of the world, and contribute to its future?

In Burkina Faso, and also in the other gatherings in Belgium and the Philippines, participants reminded us that the worst thing for the poorest children is that schools usually don't expect anything from them. On top of hunger, unsuitable housing, threats of eviction, insufficient income and lack of identity papers, this undermines their self-confidence and persuades them they are incapable of learning.

The courage and experience of their parents are not expected either, and their opinion is mostly treated with a lack of interest and respect. This is why the abyss so many children fall into is deepening, when all they want to do is develop and share their intelligence, creativity and friendship with others.

On the occasion of 17 October, the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty, let's assert together once more that projects and policies to bring an end to poverty must be devised, undertaken and evaluated using the experience and knowledge of children and adults who resist poverty day after day.

Isabelle Perrin,

Director General

International Movement ATD Fourth World