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.

 

Testimonies
United States

We have to fight to get our freedom back

People call me Shay; I am 28 years old, a mother of 4 boys, 13 to 1 years old. I live in New Orleans, my entire life.

When I was a little girl I dreamt of becoming either a police officer, a lawyer or a hair doer (Dresser). I wanted to be an independent woman and to sacrifice my life for my kids and not to depend on others.

Very soon I realize that these are not going to happen, school was tough, and the kids were picking on me calling me bald head. I was in 11th grade when Katrina hit. I was displaced and separated from my family. I could not find my mother, my brothers and sisters. I missed school and ended up getting pregnant for my first born Ryan.

I think I am left behind because now I live on food stamps for my kids. We have food stamps and we are not getting it free, we got that from the government. When the government got your information in the system and knows what you are doing, you are not free.

If I have a full time job they will cut my food stamps and I will continue to struggling to raise my kids. I hope a better place for me and other mothers to help others in need.

This world is not just for all of us because everything is a struggle for us.

It’s a struggle every day and I have to do what I have to do. I take a part time jobs and I have my food stamps to make us going.

We cannot find housing because we don’t have jobs.

I am afraid and I fear they (the government) are going to take my freedom away. I am worrying for my kids and other mothers too, due to the high violence and shooting in the city.

I have to step up and find our community and fight for your community and stand up for your civil rights. We have to fight the system to get our freedom back.

I say to all young mothers to be strong and stay beautiful, do what you need and have to do for your kids.

27/10/2017
Shay
United States

Building a world leaving no one behind, is building a world for everyone

Good Morning everybody. Today I pay tribute to the courage, tenacity and hope of Ms. Yolanda A. a native of New Orleans. Ms. Yolanda is 41 yrs. old, a mother and of six children: three daughters and three sons.

Talking about “Joining our voices – building a world leaving (that leaves) no one behind,” You added, “I am joining my voice today with all mothers that struggle in everyday life to raise their family. Building a world leaving no one behind, is building a world for everyone. I guess I had (have) been left behind a long time ago.”

Ms. Yolanda, you are usually a quiet person, and you don’t need lots of words to express yourself. “Building a world for everyone” says a lot about your life and your family’s. You had been homeless for many years and had been waiting for a long time to get access to an affordable house for your family. The day you left the office of the Housing Authority of New Orleans with your housing voucher in your hands, you had a big smile on your face, and you said to me, “Looks like today I won a lottery! It has been years I waited for my house. It has been a struggle to move from one place to another with my children. My children are growing big, and I needed a safe place for them to stay. That’s why they could not learn at school. My son D. and my daughter got always suspended at school. I had spent my time going back and forth to court, to school. I lost my job when I lost my house. Since Hurricane Katrina I applied for a voucher. I was all the time on their waiting list. The last time I went to check, they said they had sent me a letter which I never received. I did call them many times, and they never responded to my call. I was discouraged! I was crying. I had moved my children so many times and I could not take it anymore. I am happy today to finally get a chance to be in a house again. I will restart anew. Now I have to find money to furnish my house. All of my belongings that was in storage was taken away because I could no longer pay for the storage. They have auctioned my furniture. But you know those are materials; I will find new one.”

As many families, living in persistent poverty in New Orleans, finding affordable housing is becoming more and more difficult. Due to the lack of decent affordable housing, families are scattered, separated and broken. Children are more than disturbed with (distracted from) their education, and our youth are disoriented. Gentrification creates more and more isolation of families living in persistent poverty. More and more families living in persistent poverty in New Orleans are pushed out to the outskirts of the cities where access to basic needs is denied to them. Building a world that leaves no one behind is to take into consideration the experiences of those who deal with keeping their family together safely in everyday life.

27/10/2017
Ms. Yolanda A
United Kingdom

There’s not enough being told about poverty all over the world.

Let me tell you – testimony

George Square, Glasgow, Scotland

October 17, 2016

There’s not enough being told about poverty all over the world. It feels like everything is shutting down all over the place. I’m worried because I hear about them shutting hostels.

If you take away our human rights, what have we got left? It’s a tough time for us. Who do you turn to? Some people are vulnerable and they have no-one to turn to.

It feels like things are changing all over the world. Everythings changed.

I have places like Bridging the Gap, The Poverty Truth Commission and the Citizens Theatre. They are places I feel involved, I feel part of, places where I can strive. It helps my depression and assists me to understand things These places encourage me to get out of bed and I want to go to college next year.

I look back on the last 4 years and what a roller coaster. But I’m striving as a person. My voice has been heard. I spoke at an event with a Cabinet Secretary for Communities about my experiences with the Department of Working Pensions (DWP).

My life story has been shared all over the world.

To be standing here right now is so important to me. Everyone has difficult times and we all need to come together.

18/10/2016
William from Glasgow, Scotland
United Kingdom

Food poverty and the humiliation and loss of dignity of accessing foodbanks is a modern scurge on society.

Let me tell you – testimony

Glasgow, Scotland

October 17, 2016

Food poverty and the humiliation and loss of dignity of accessing foodbanks is a modern scurge on society. When the Scottish Government set up its Good Food Nation, it was put to them that “Scotland cannot be a good food nation when people are in food poverty and unable to feed themselves.” The Poverty Truth Commission was asked to nominate a food poverty representative as a comissioner. From this a short life working group was set up to look at the Dignity of food and alternatives to food banks with one of the recommendations being put to Scottish Government to “enshrine the ‘Right to Food’ ” in Scots law, making it a Human Right. A ‘Fair Food Fund’ has also been implemented to combat food poverty with the emphasis being on Food Dignity and community inclusion.

The Poverty Truth Commission motto is “nothing about us, without us, is for us and we will continue to engage in all work that challenges human rights.

18/10/2016
Caroline from Glasgow, Scotland
United Kingdom

Poverty – it is important to understand that there is no single definition of poverty.

Let me tell you – testimonies

Glasgow, Scotland

Testimony 1

Food poverty, humiliation and loss of dignity of accessing food banks is a modern scourge on society. When the Scottish government set up the Good Food Nation it was put to them that “Scotland cannot be a Good Food Nation when people are in food poverty and are unable to feed themselves”. The Poverty Truth Commission was asked to nominate a food poverty representative as a commissioner. From this a short life working group was set up to look at the dignity of food and as an alternative to food banks. With one of the recommendations being put to the Scottish government is to ensure the 'Right to food' in Scots Law, making it a Human Right. A 'Four Food Fund' has been implemented to combat food poverty with an emphasis being on food dignity and community inclusion. The Poverty Truth Commission's motto is “nothing about us, without us, is for us” and we will continue to engage in all work that challenges human rights.

Testimony 2

Poverty is a complex phenomenon. It is caused by a range of factors – low wages, living on benefits, being one parent families. There is a stigma attached to one parent families. Parents find it almost impossible to get affordable childcare. Living on benefits is a struggle for most people - no money for proper food, heating of homes and if there are children, the cost of school uniforms are a burden on benefits and having to tell your child they have to get the cheapest item of clothing and footwear. Other children can be so cruel. Every child deserves a childhood without money worries.

Poverty – it is important to understand that there is no single definition of poverty. The children are excluded from activities and opportunities that others enjoy.

Testimony 3

Poverty Truth Commission brings people together from all walks of life, civil servants, doctors, MSPs, people of all faiths and creeds – but most of all, people in poverty.

Those in poverty share their stories with the other commissioners who listen and learn what it is like to be on the breadline. The most important part of the commission is that a person in poverty is given a voice, most importantly their dignity.

People in the commission take away they stories they have heard and shared. Those in poverty feel they are not alone. When we walk in the door, we are all one, with one aim to give them back their dignity.

Testimony 4

I want to start with a bit about myself. I'm a mother and grandmother. I don't work due to ill health. I'm concerned about what is happening to people, especially families with all these cuts to benefits. People who live in poverty are being blamed for their situation.

I want to tell you a story about a girl standing with her wee boy at the school gates, looking for someone she can borrow 50p off. Reason being its dress down day and if she can't pay the 50p her wee boy can't go to school. Think about how mortifying that young lassie must feel having to borrow 50p! Things like this are happening more often.

The nursery snack/toy fund is £3 per week, double if you have another child in nursery. That is £24 a month! With the cost of hiring and frozen benefits, how is anybody supposed to find that kind of spare money.

With the added pressure when you have kids. It takes you back to the Thatcher days. It's not changed from the 80's till now and we need to make a change by standing together and standing strong. Not to fight the system on their own. Let's gather together I beg you so no-one is left behind.

Testimony 5

Song by Dr Southkat

Verse

No cool neighbours/no real family/no friends I can depend on/

No free rides/no cigarettes/just a graveyard plot/one day to lie in/

No talk time/no spare change/no rubber cheques/not in the post/

No rich muckers/no charity/the best I've known/appear as ghosts/

Nice to nice/but please think twice/when you're handing over your cash/

Come tomorrow/skag is king/or frosty jack/or pills or hash/

Spend all you got/in a corner shop/sunday morning/there is no tick/

They'll laugh at you/spit on the ground/despise you/when you're sick.

Chorus

No thievery/no bribery/no begging/no blackmail/

No promises/no let you downs/no cheating hands/and no damn lying.

Verse

They patronise you/overcharge you/don't pay you respect/send mad letters/

Pay dividends/to murderers/worship fondly/death and hate/

Swear to god/life's killing us/let's fight it/before it's too late/

Swear my friend/life's doing you in/let's make it work/never too late.

18/10/2016
Testimonies from Glasgow, Scotland