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.



Poverty means having the ability but lacking the opportunity

I am from the province, my parents are poor rice farmers. We experienced obstacles. As our income was low, our parents could not afford to send us to secondary school and these things prevented us to go where we wanted to go. For me what defines poverty is having the ability but lacking the opportunity.

When I finished primary school I moved to Bangkok, to look for a job, knowledge and experience. I had a goal in life and wanted to have what the others have : I want to have an education, I want to have opportunities. I did everything to get money in order to go to school. If I was hired to wash the dishes, to cook food, I would take the job, so that I could access education like other people and improve my life. I would attend class and then I would go to work in the evening. I learned from the jobs, from the experiences and it allowed me to progress. I looked for ways and I started to train myself in sales. For this you need to set a goal, have a service mind, want the consumers to get quality products, be sincere with them, give them quality service. You must know your customers, know what they want, in what season you can provide which products, and in so doing you will reach your goal to know your customers.

Today, I don’t have much income and there is hardship for me still, but I want a better life for my children, I want them to be able to have education like others, good jobs, and live well.

My message to people in poverty is don’t think that you are underprivileged but try to find a way to break through from that state and show others what you can do.

Khun N.
United States

Youth Testimony from Ireland, Oct17, Clincho, Appalachia, VA, USA


International Day

for the Eradication of Poverty

October 17, 2018 - Clincho VA

Community Contribution from a group of young adults, Dublin, Ireland

We are 20 young men and women from Dublin who worked together to write this message for October 17. Most of us know very well what it means living on a very low income, and some of us have slept in the street. We know what it is to be put down.

To leave no one behind, we first have to put the homeless on a bigger agenda. They live extreme poverty and are isolated, especially the very young. It's easy to turn to drugs when you're homeless, because you give up.

Jackie said : “Leaving no one behind means bringing back a homeless person to my home, like some one from my family. I could lose my flat for taking this risk. But I do it because I was homeless.”

Teresa said: “Now I have my flat, but I would not walk past a homeless person. If you're my friend when I'm on the street, you're still my friend when I'm not.”

Around town we see homeless people, young and old. Why can't all the empty buildings be used to offer them proper homes?

What can we do to leave no one behind? We are born equal and in innocence, but our paths in life are not equal.

One father said, “I was left behind at school years ago. The class teacher hit me and I reacted. I told the teacher what I thought of him. I was then thrown out. I was just 13 and school was finished for me. There were no more chances to learn. I stopped going to school. No one ever came to my house to ask why?. Yes, I was left behind.” It is life-long access to education that gives people another chance.

Our communities can offer the chance not to be left behind,  we have to understand each other, to take time to walk in each other's shoes Let's not turn our backs on those who face hardship and isolation, on those who get a prison sentence.

An answer lies in friendship and in the people you get to know in your community; keeping contact and talking with each other; and being a good neighbour is very important.  All this gives you the understanding of belonging somewhere.  And we never should, put anyone down. Everyone should have their chance to make their mark in their community.

We need to have a sense of humour as well, that we share with others. It is part of being together. Today we want to remember all those who have died in misery, especially those who died during the past year. Their lives were too hard. Sometimes our lives are the same.

Even if our problems take us to hell and back, we still have feelings and we have the right to live with respect.

Our humanity can never be taken away from us.

Isabelle Williams

Testimony of Ashura, October 17 2018, Tanzania

Asalam aley kum (Peace be with you). I would like to thank God for inviting me here today.

My name is Ashura Onesmo, I am a mother of five children, I am a breaker of stones to in the  quarry of "Cambodia" near to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The source of my poverty is the family conflict between my father and my mother. My mother was doing small income generating activities. I managed to study until the seventh grade of primary school. I did not manage to go to high school. I think that if I had a good education, I would have a good job and could fight against poverty.

For us women here, the way to fight against poverty is to break the stones. It is a job that requires no investment other than our own strength. However, breaking stones is hard work and very dangerous, but we do it because we have no alternative.

I usually get up at four in the morning, prepare some juices which I can sell, and prepare lunch for my family. After I go to work at the quarry. I arrive there at 6am and immediately start breaking stones. I stop at around 3pm and start measuring the piles of broken stones (so as to fill the buckets). During a day, I can fill 7 to 20 buckets, I can earn between 2000 to 5000 TSH per day. This is not enough for the needs of the family, but we continue to fight. We do not despair because we hope that someday things will change.

The work of breaking stones is a job that can be done by everyone because we do not need any capital, except the contribution our own physical strength, but it is risky work, including the risk of tuberculosis because of the dust, working under the sun all day, and not having a good diet. For us women, lifting and carrying large stones to break can have consequences, such as abortions.

The problems of poverty are numerous. Our children are with us every day at the quarry and grow up there. They start breaking stones themselves at a young age, and some get used to earning a little money. This means that some young people do not like school because they prefer to make money.

I conclude by thanking ATD for visiting our us in our work and giving us the opportunity to participate in research on poverty indicators. We benefited greatly because we now have a broader understanding about poverty.

Women in work - thank you very much. May God continue to bless you.


United States

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
United States

Message of Activist, Stacy White, October 17, United Nations HQ, New York

Good afternoon,

People in poverty are not the lowest of the low.

I live with my daughter in a shelter in Queens, New York City, and I am doing my best to look for permanent affordable housing to stay outside of the shelter system. I currently have twelve weeks to find an apartment based on a voucher provided by the City of New York. Throughout my life, I have lived in poverty-stricken areas. 

For me, poverty is about neglected areas — areas that are not taken care of, where there are no resources for families like libraries, good schools, or even good stores. 

In the stores, most of the groceries are expired, including potato chips and sodas. The store owners think that we’re content with living this way because they think we do not have a voice, but that is not the case. People living in poverty have this fear that if they open their mouths, then action will be taken against them, so nobody says anything. So, we’re going to continue to have stores like that, unless people living in poverty let their voices be heard, so others are stopping to take advantage of them.

In these places where sidewalks are cracked and infrastructures are broken, it's important that we stand up for our rights and that we voice our needs — make noise to get what we have the right to have.

We have to make noise. I don’t mean being loud, being violent, cursing people out, belittling people. I mean going to meet people. Because a piece of paper is just not going to work, you have to go down there and stay in their face and keep staying in their face. You have to claim your right.

It’s important to be heard because it’s only right. Everyone should have the right to speak, to say how they feel about what is going on in their life. It’s a human right to be heard and to listen to someone — to communicate with one another.

A lot of times I had the feeling I was not heard. When I went into the shelter system, I told them I wasn’t giving them any false information, but they weren’t trying to hear that, talking above me and raising their voices.

They don’t listen because a lot of people go by status. If you have a job and I don’t, I’m lower; if I live in the projects and you own a home, I’m lower; if you have better shoes, I’m lower. So, if we’re not on the same level, people don’t want to be bothered.

Often, I get the impression that some people are not properly trained for their jobs. When you’re working a job that requires customer service or dealing with people, you have to be trained to deal with it all.

Inside poverty-stricken neighborhoods, to stop the violence, people need to bring it out into the open and stop keeping it inside. If we don’t get together and say something about it, violence will keep happening.

We, in our community, only make noise if a black person is killed by a police officer. We don’t say anything when we kill each other. In the neighborhoods where I’m from, this happens every day, every other day, but we don’t say anything. Because, first, people are scared of retaliation. And, second, some police officers think, “Let them kill each other.”

We need peacemakers in our neighborhoods because some people don’t feel secure enough or safe enough to tell the police. We have to find someone we can fully trust who will listen to us, and then maybe someone the police will listen to, because they’re not going to listen to the people in the neighborhoods, people in poverty. My mother would play that role.

My mother didn’t care what color you were — if you’re in trouble, you’re in trouble and that’s it. That taught me to raise my kids with respect, and that’s why I have respect for everyone. She had a lot of impact on me.  Now, if I see somebody fighting, if it’s not a violent fight, but something I can resolve, I try to resolve it.

Nobody deserves to be put down because of where they are from, what color they are, how much they make, or what they eat. I don’t feel disrespected too much. When someone tries to disrespect me, it feels like I have a raincoat that gets wet and the rain rolls off. Because I know who I am, I know where I came from, and I am proud of who I am.

Respect starts at home with a very caring adult. Kids are bullied so much. If you tell your child, you stand on your own two feet, and you are perfectly fine the way you are, when he’s being bullied, he will just walk away with a “Please, get out of my face with that.”  But if a parent or a caring adult doesn’t let them know that, then that child is going to absorb the bullying until the pressure becomes too much. Let’s see what their art and their talent is. You have to help your child be confident.

It's the same for our LGBT young people.  A lot of them are killing themselves, turning to drugs, or living on the streets because their parents are not accepting. When you have a child, your love is unconditional.

Homeless people also deserve respect. Anyone who has any care in the world for people should let them know where they can find help. I tell people where they can find support. Also, simply saying hello to someone makes a world of a difference. 

Everyone can and should come together. All it takes is one person to take the first step. Usually, another follows behind. It’s not too hard to follow someone else’s steps. What is hard is to take that first step to tell other people. So, today, I am telling you: “Don't be afraid to take that first step, and let's come together to make a difference.”

Video: Commemoration at the United Nations Headquarters
Genevieve Tardieu