Talk without fear and finally reflect together
Letter to Friends around the World # 81

In a world confronted with so many challenges, there is one resource that remains untapped: the know-how of people who are resisting extreme poverty and trying with all their might to protect their children from its effects. Their history of resistance is founded on their sense of dignity. They have inherited it from those who have preceded them throughout the centuries, in the face of constant deprivation and humiliation, treated as though they were no longer human beings.

Through this resistance, they have gained an irreplaceable experience and know-how – a know-how that is not recognized by our societies. Instead, the latter continue to ignore that those who struggle under duress to survive day by day in the ‘red zones’ of this world possess a knowledge that would be useful in identifying the best way forward towards a development that is truly sustainable, a peace that is enjoyed by all, an exchange that is useful in eradicating extreme poverty.

In 1987, Joseph Wresinski declared to UN staff: “Along the most remote trails and pathways, in the most forsaken urban zones, in places where most of the inhabitants are illiterate, I have always found that people, and even children, knew that the world was on the move, changing, developing. For these people, the real heartache was not to be poor and to remain so. Their heartache was that others were participating in the changes, whereas they were excluded, considered as having nothing to contribute.”

To overcome the lack of exchange and the resulting ignorance that engenders poverty and deprives humanity from an opportunity for real innovation, it is vital to create spaces where those who never have an opportunity to meet can talk without fear and finally reflect together. This is what you yourselves are trying to do, and this is why you affirm the importance of the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty. The 17th of October offers us an occasion to experiment with the conditions required for encounters in which we can think, act and live differently, with those who are usually left aside.

Through the Forum for Overcoming Extreme Poverty, which creates links between those who, on all five continents, are working to create such unique encounters, we want to share our knowledge, our courage and our ideas, in order for no one to remain alone in this endeavour.

Isabelle Perrin, Director General,

International Movement ATD Fourth World