Every attitude, every gesture has to fight poverty and exclusion. There are many ways to act, regardless of our skills and availability. These messages, these testimonials reflect. Feel free to contribute.

Testimonies are published under the responsibility of the author. They are subject to validation: these will be published only if they comply, in form and substance the spirit of this day as defined in the International Charter for October 17.

 

Collective Testimony from New Orleans, October 17, 2018

Together  let’s  build  a  world  of  respect  for  everyone’s  human rights  and  dignity!                  

What  does  it  mean  to  build  a  world  of  respect  for  everyone’s human  rights  and  dignity?  

Families  living  in  extreme  poverty  in  New  Orleans   tell  us  so much  about  what  it  looks  like  when they  don’t  feel  respected  as a human  being  because  they  are  born  extremely  poor.  

Ms. Pat  said,  “It  looks  like  your  poverty  follows  you  all  the  way around  for  your  entire  life  and  it’s   hard!  It’s  hard  on  everything:  housing,   food,  transportation.  It   feels  as  if  you  are  going nowhere.   We   can’t   wait   on   the   system   to   support   our   people; we   do   it   ourselves  with   the   little   we   have.   Look!   Linda  was   homeless   with   her   three   children.   I   cannot   let   her   and   her   children   be   on   the   streets.  I  have  to  let  her  in until  she  finds  a  place.  But  after  one  month,  it’s  a  lot  for  me  to feed  the   entire  family.  I  am  poor  myself!  It’s  hard  to  tell  her  to leave  knowing  that  she  does  not  have  a  place   to  go.  But  it’s like that  with  our  people.”

Ms. Charlene  dreams  to  own  a  house,  said,  “When  I  went  to  the housing  agency  they  asked  me,   ‘What  is  your  dream?’  I  told them  ‘My  dream  is  to  get  my  own  house  so  that  I  don’t  need  to move   from  one  place  to  another  and  that  one  day  my  children will  not  be  on  the  streets.’  But  I  can  never   save  any  money  to get  to  50%  of  the  cost.  There  is  always  something  coming  up!  I have  to  get  my   children   out   of   jail,   or   someone   is   sick   and  needs  money.   Sometimes   I   feel   like   I  make   one   step   forward and  then  go  ten  steps  backwards.”

Chantelle  added,  “I  work  hard  but  don’t  get  a  good  pay,  even with  two  jobs.  They are  run  by  the   third  parties,  so  I  don’t  have someone  directly  to    talk  to  about  employment opportunities.  You are   always   on   contract   for   six   months   and   they   keep   cutting  down  your   hours. They   hire   migrants  because  they  don’t have  to  pay  any  charges. It  would  be  great  if  they  could  at  least give  us  $15  an   hour.  You  cannot  move  one  step  forward  with $8.50  per  hour.  You  can  only  think  about  the  future   with  your family,  but  can’t  actually  realize  it.”  

J.D.  added,  “Police  arrest  us  for  little  things.  Once  you  are  in the system,  you  are  trapped  in  it.  You   cannot  get  a  house,  and  you cannot  get  a  job.  For  your  entire  life  you  are  trapped  in!  You  are left   behind  because  all  the  curses  are  on  you.  I  am  happy  to learn  that  the City  council  voted  to  “ban   the  box”  and provide decent  living  wages.  That  will  change  something  in  our  lives.”  

No  one   should  be  left behind!  Today,  we  pay   tribute   to  your courage,   to  your   strength,   to  your   perseverance,   to   your   resistance   to   stand   up   every   day   and   face   the   reality   of   your   lives. You deserve  respect  and  dignity  as  any  other human being.

Marie Victoire