So what do we want to do now?
Letter to Friends around the World # 86

The work conducted by the ATD Fourth World Movement on five continents to evaluate the impact of the Millennium goals confirms that “anti-poverty policies not thought out with the poorest only very rarely have any impact on them, and too often turn against them”.

On the other hand, if we are capable of creating the conditions to ensure no-one is left out and everyone is able to contribute, projects and policies unite people instead of dividing them, and reduce inequalities instead of making them worse. In that case, justice, freedom and peace make progress, for everyone. It is our hope to see this ambition taken up everywhere around the world, as the starting point for truly sustainable development for all.

This is also what the participants said at the Fourth World People's University held at the European Parliament in Brussels, on the 5th of March. They came from ten or so European countries - activists confronted by extreme poverty every day, citizens in solidarity, civil servants and elected representatives from European institutions. They communicated and thought together to define proposals to help build Europe in line with its values: Human rights, democracy and peace.

This meeting is one more step in the long struggle to obtain recognition for people who live in poverty as fully fledged citizens who, because of their experience of life and their skills, are capable of making a vital contribution to building a world for everyone, with everyone.

I was impressed by the discussions in the group of activists about what needs to be done to ensure people living in extreme poverty are able to participate as citizens in public life. Someone said: “Our aim is not to speak instead of others, but to continue seeking them out.” Seeking out those who are missing, that is the watchword to guide us in everything we do.

What are we doing to make sure they have a place among us, so that they can express themselves freely and contribute to change, so that they can influence our projects and programmes?

Isabelle Perrin, Director General

International Movement ATD Fourth World