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.



Development is sustainable only when it includes everyone

 A Message from the International Committee for October 17on the occasion of the World Day for Overcoming Poverty17th October 2011

« The eradication of poverty is the greatest challenge confronting the world today and an essential condition for achieving sustainable development. »1

We, the Members of the International Committee for October 17, commend and whole-heartedly support this critical declaration by the Member States of the United Nations, and we undertake to disseminate this message in our societies to ensure that it is recognized at the political, economic, social and cultural levels. Therefore, on this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we stand in solidarity with all people living in poverty and declare that development is sustainable only when it includes everyone.

We believe that, within such an inclusive approach to development, it is fundamental and critical that economic, social and environmental policies take into account the realities of the lives of people most exposed to the risks and dangers of their environment. Not only must their contributions to community-building efforts be recognized, but they must also be effective partners in the processes to achieve the changes desired by all, namely living together in harmony in an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable planet.

Yet, at this very moment, on every continent, we observe the same deplorable and unsustainable situation: individuals and families who are trapped in extreme poverty are disproportionately exposed to the risks and hazards of their living environment, and are among the groups least capable to cope with the social, economic and health consequences of climate change and environmental degradation. Too often poor people are forced by their circumstance to seek refuge in areas polluted by industrial waste, or to live on land highly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change or natural disasters, including flooding, drought or landslides.

Despite their valiant attempts to find a means of subsistence in such challenging environments, the personal security and health of such poor people are at risk. In urban areas, for example, many families who live at the subsistence level, survive by collecting refuse to be recycled and resold. In rural areas, they spend long hours toiling in fields or plantations. In both these situations people living in poverty are often exposed to toxic chemicals and hazardous waste and their bodies pay a heavy price for the crushing labour which fails to bring them a living wage.

To achieve inclusive, sustainable development, it is essential to have the commitment, participation and shared efforts of all citizens, both rich and poor. People living in poverty must be able to participate equally in the conceptualization and implementation of policies for sustainable development. People living in poverty have also undertaken initiatives involving small groups of friends working in solidarity on the fringe of waste management projects, to mitigate the risks and dangers of their environment as best they can and to focus on the creation of income-generating activities. Often, individuals and families living in extreme poverty, have transformed their appalling living conditions by working on their own to improve water delivery, sewage or heating services.

It is absolutely imperative to ensure that policies and programmes for sutainable development are formulated and implemented using the expertise and experience of all, including the most vulnerable individuals and populations. Without their active and valuable participation in decision-making and implementation, we shall not be able to create a durable and truly sustainable world free from poverty and hunger.

The International Committee for October 17 urges you to publicly demonstrate your solidarity with those suffering the greatest exclusion in society on this International Day which gives visibility to their daily struggle against poverty and exclusion. This is an indispensable pre-condition for achieving genuinely sustainable development that will lead to the attainment of sustainable and durable peace.

1 64th General Assembly of the United Nations, resolution A.RES/64/236

Comité international 17 octobre

“May we dare work toward justice and peace!”

Message from Eugen Brand,Director General of the International Movement ATD Fourth World,for 17 October 2011, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty


New walls have been going up around the world. Some are cement walls that make it almost impossible for people to circulate and to get to know one another. Elsewhere, we see neighborhoods putting up metal gates to prevent camping by people who have nowhere else to go.  Intended to make life safer for some people, these walls condemn others to insecurity and suffocate them. They make it impossible for people to develop the mutual respect needed in order to work toward solutions together. Everyone misses out on the community that might have been.

And yet, faced with these formidable obstacles, sometimes taking great risks, there are women, men, youths and children who find breaches in walls. They open doors, they invite others to gatherings or celebrations where each person is considered worth getting to know, with no one imposing a single way of living or set of convictions.

In working toward social justice, there are times when nothing is enough, when even the mobilization of thousands of people, from the man in the street to the influential, cannot save an innocent person from death, nor prevent the eviction of a single family. Hope, always fragile, can be pushed aside until we are weighed down by the question, “Are our efforts all for nothing? What's the point if, behind the walls of rules, certainties, laws, the powers that be don't want to see or hear, don't want to share power?” So where can we find the courage needed to build solidarity, without reversing into violence that would only trigger more violence, putting still more innocents at risk? Our era has been marked by events that pit people against one another. Where can we find the energy to build a community where the desire to live together in peace can be stronger than the fear of the “other,” stronger than distrust of those who live differently, stronger than even the rejection of those who have no choice but to survive by their wits?

“May we dare work toward justice and peace!” was the call, thirty years ago, of Fr. Joseph Wresinski. This challenge remains at the heart of ATD Fourth World, which has always continued, together with others, to initiate thousands of gatherings among people and communities who know nothing of one another. Day after day, our goal is to build a new shared history: one that is free from false security and one where knowledge, learning and power are no longer the private property of some; but one where those who bear the brunt of every crisis are the first to inspire the way forward.

This October 17th may we dare reach out to others in ways that will renew our energy, courage and ambitions. October 17th begins with the man whose building has been condemned and who can no longer open his front door, but who nevertheless from his ground floor window invites us: “Come in!” Like him, this October 17th, may we dare to invite others. And may we dare to come in.

International Leadership Team of the International Movement ATD Fourth World

Celebrating human life in a beautiful way!

As members of the NORTH WEST INNER CITY TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT in Dublin, we come every year to the commemorative stone close to the famine memorial on the occasion of the 17th October commemoration:

to touch the ground and bear witness to the lives of those condemned to live in poverty. We remember our own lives and the lives of our parents and their parents.  

to stand with others, not only in Ireland but throughout the world and celebrate human life in a beautiful way, through song and music, without violence but with peace in our hearts,

to stand against poverty and uplift our spirits and the spirits of the families struggling to survive on a daily basis,

to declare to the world the truth, that mother earth has abundant resources to nourish and sustain all life.

We come because our group knows we know we are not alone, which is best expressed in the following quote:

“No man is an island, entire of itself,every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the mainif a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own wereany man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankindand therefore never send to know for whom the bell tollsit tolls for thee.”   John Donne