Learning from the involvement of others
Letter to Friends around the World # 107

In 2022 we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, recognised by the United Nations in 1992. This day is an opportunity to strengthen the voice of those in extreme poverty, their experiences, their aspirations, their struggles and the alliances needed to eradicate poverty and build peace. A peace that starts with the absence of war but it’s fully built until the dignity of everyone is recognized. Meaningful peace efforts wherever there are or have been armed conflicts, and there is or has been inhumanity because of poverty.

Ten years ago, in 2012 after several years of participatory research, people experiencing poverty along with those working alongside them, professionals and academics, took part in an international colloquium at UNESCO entitled “Extreme Poverty Is Violence – Breaking the Silence – Searching for Peace" Together all stated that poverty is violence, and that to act with those who suffer from it by seeking equal dignity is to build peace.

During the last International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we stated that our societies treat nature like those in extreme poverty. And that today, it is necessary to take into account everything that links social, economic and environmental justice to change the world so that we will overcome extreme poverty.

This Letter to Friends Around the World 107 has real-life stories of commitment rooted in the life of people who resist poverty and exclusion daily. For example, Marielle's commitment in Haiti to support her parents and siblings through a farming project. Or the young academic and professional in Togo, who learns from the experience of a boy struggling with the educational system in his country. In Egypt, young people in school bring books to those not in the educational system. Or Aminetou in Mauritania, who refuses to give up when she hears others say, "I can't do anything, I don't know how to do it." So she starts a family gardening project, educational activities for young girls, and spaces where people listen and speak so as "to give them back their ability to take action."

We are building know-how and a conviction through these shared experiences of activism. Experiences that bring us together to unite our strength so that we leave no one behind. Because leaving no one behind means building a real future for generations to come.

The theme for October 17, 2022 and 2023 crystallises this dynamic. That started 35 years ago when in 1987, Joseph Wresinski asked us to unite in order to build a world without poverty.

Chantal Consolini-Thiébaud,
Deputy Director, International Mouvement ATD Fourth World