On February 12, 1917, Joseph Wresinski was born in France. His childhood was marked by his experiences of poverty and the courage of his family. From here sprung his conviction that no one should face poverty alone, and he began to seek out those who were forced to live in such undignified conditions. After becoming a priest, he joined 250 families in a homelessness camp in the Paris region.
In 1957, he founded the ATD Fourth World Movement with their help. Together, they spoke out about poverty. Today, ATD Fourth World is present in more than thirty countries and maintains links in a hundred more.
On October 17, 1987, Joseph Wresinski and 100,000 people of all backgrounds unveiled a commemorative stone in honour of victims of poverty on the Plaza of Liberties and Human Rights in Paris. This marked the first World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty, which in 1992 became officially recognized by the United Nations. The words engraved on the stone make an appeal to all of us:
“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty,
human rights are violated.
To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”
Today, all over the world, people are inspired by this man and these words to bring together the most excluded among us. By leaving no one behind, they are creating a world based on respect, justice, and peace.
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