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 Kingdom

It is a time to think about those more disadvantaged than ourselves and put ourselves in their shoes.

16 October, London

Hello. My name is Amanda.

On 17 October 1987, ATD Fourth World was at the heart of the laying of a Commemorative Stone honouring the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger in Paris.

Five years later, the United Nations recognised 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Since then, more than forty similar Commemorative Stones have been laid around the world, from the European Parliament in Brussels to the Gardens of the United Nations in New York City.

Each stone bears the words of Joseph Wresinski, the founder of the International Movement ATD Fourth World: "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."

The day is important to me because it is a way to keep poverty in the public eye. It reminds us all that people in poverty should not be forgotten about.

It is a time to think about those more disadvantaged than ourselves and put ourselves in their shoes.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty tells us that if we fight poverty together then we can take a step forward for everybody together.

Thank you.

Poverty = Discrimination: Live music with a message
18/10/2016
Amanda
United Kingdom

We shouldn't be treated as a number but as a person.

16 October 2016 - London

This year's 17 October theme is:

Moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation: Ending poverty in all its forms

The International Committee for 17 October wrote a document where they explained in more detail why the theme was chosen this year. It highlights how important it is to recognise and address the humiliation and exclusion endured by many people living in poverty.

An extract from this document mentions about people having to “endure with rude, demeaning, condescending or judgemental behaviour on the part of social assistance office staff”.

I've had that several times from the job centre. My job advisor, in her eyes, thought I wasn't doing enough to look for jobs and would regularly tell me I would get sanctioned.

You can do job searches online or at the job centre. You can do it on your phone if you've got wifi, if not it will eat up your phone credit. A lot of people do the searches at the job centre, I saw that when I had to do work experience there. Many don't know how to do it properly, I ended up helping them with the computers. I also helped them to fill in their benefit forms. A lot of people will struggle with the Universal Credit's forms.

I applied for a job recently and I didn't go to the interview because I found out it was for an agency. I've had bad experiences with agencies in the past, where I've worked and not got paid. So I ended up getting sanctioned from July to October. Luckily I found a job with another agency. Yes, I ended up going with another agency but I had to otherwise I would have been evicted from my flat. My benefits have been stopped because of this sanction.

I have to apply for jobs that I know I can't even do because of my health. Often, you apply for jobs and never hear anything back. I was shocked when within minutes of applying online for my current job, that I was offered an interview. I found out it was with an agency but they have been good with me up to now.

I was sanctioned a couple of years ago when I was on the job centre's work programme. They told me that they had sent me a letter and a text about an appointment. I never received either and they didn't believe me. I got a letter telling me that they would be stopping my benefit for a month.

I had to phone up the Council's emergency service. They put me in touch with a foodbank and credit union to get money for my electricity. I was surprised they gave me cash for my electric, I was really tempted to spend it on something to eat but I used it for electricity. Any other money I had went on my oyster card to get around. I was lucky that a local cafe gave me credit so I could eat. I felt bad though that I wasn't able to pay for my meals. I saw all the other customers pay for their own food.

I've never received help for getting to job interviews or money for clothes, the job centre say they can help with this but they never do. I have asked several times about it. Now I can apply for universal credit, but my shifts at my new job in the train station mean its been hard to sort out. I hope my sanction won't get in the way of this. I'm waiting until my sanction ends before applying so nothing will go wrong.

I like working in customer service at the train station, I never thought I would ever say that I enjoy working. I like earning my own money so I don't have to worry. I enjoy getting paid weekly.

My induction for this new job was on the same day that I had to sign on for the last time. My job advisor said I needed to leave the induction early. I told them it was my induction but they said I needed to come and sign on. When I got to the job centre and explained again that it was actually my induction day, they said “why didn't you tell us? We could have automatically signed you on”. I did tell them, you feel like you are banging your head on a brick wall. I thought the job centre was there to help us but they make things harder and harder.

Another extract from this document says:

“An important commitment is to honour the human dignity of people living in poverty and to fight to end the discrimination humiliation and social exclusion they suffer.”

You get people treating people in poverty as stupid with no brains. It's nice for people in poverty to get their point across and be listened to. This time next year, I would love to not be claiming benefits. I know I'll have to watch what I spend. I want to have a job and earn money. You feel really small when you go to the job centre, it's like you are begging.

They always ask for your national insurance number. They need to make things more human, we shouldn't be treated as a number but as a person. You have to apply for jobs you can't do, to keep people happy. People are under so much pressure, it's wrong.

Recently my housing association organised for me to have new windows. I was working at the train station, and had to tell the window company to come another day. I was so grateful that they rearranged the time and date. I could have cried because they were so helpful and understanding. I thought, my god someone actually cares. If I could I would have taken the lady on the phone flowers and chocolates to say thank you. I don't come across many people like this, I really appreciated this kind gesture.

Thank you for coming and listening.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
18/10/2016
Patricia
United Kingdom

I now feel that my life is getting back on track.

16 October 2016

Leading up to 2013 my life was starting to take a down hill spiral.

I had an event that changed my whole life, and the way I see things. Due to it I ended up in psychiatric hospital in roughly December 2013.

The unit I ended up in was full of people with various mental health issues. The staff in there varied, and the way you were treated, depended on which staff members were on duty. Some of the staff in there showed compassion where others treated you like dirt.

I also felt very excluded from the outside world as if we were hidden from them because we were different. An example of this was when we were allowed out, we had to wear our lanyards around our neck as to show we were different. I felt I had to wear it as humiliation that I was not well, often people would see it and avoid walking by us thinking we might attack them.

Freedom in this place was taken in away as we were told when or where we could smoke and how often we were allowed to smoke. I was lucky that this never happened to me but to other patients. They would have feelings of utter shame but also felt humiliated by it especially when someone would have to be tackled by staff for not working with them.

In this place you felt as if your self esteem was lost because when your ill you lose a sense of who you are. Confidence was often knocked by staff and patients due to who you are and the way you came across. If you did not agree or like each other it often led to fights. Like I mentioned earlier about depending on who was on shift depended on the care you were given. Some people actually care where some others were working just to get a pay check at the end of the day.

A big part of life changed was when I was finally discharged from this Unit. I felt at this point that I was being allowed to rejoin society. When I moved on from this place initially, I was not given a home of my own, but put into a lot of different travel lodge hotels over the course of a year. I did not feel that this helped me to reintegrate with society. I did not have a door to call my own and was living out of a suitcase. All this moving about, I feel also made it harder for me to rebuild links with my family.

Now I have been given a place I can all home , even though it is not a permanent tenancy. I feel that I am on the mend, even though I have support workers and medication to keep taking, I also still see the doctor.

One of the things that have helped my recovery since leaving the unit is that I now have the ability to own a dog, who is more than just a pet . He is my constant companion and better than any therapy that can be given by the doctors.

Thanks to my friends, family and cuddles (my dog) I now feel that my life is getting back on track, and with any luck things can only get better.

Obviously I still have my bad days, but cuddles is there to help and also knowing I can lean on my Dad helps too.

Thank you for listening.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
18/10/2016
Ruth
Tanzania

If you hear about such an opportunity, don't hesitate to learn

I'm a mother of 5 children. I'm working at Fish Market, at the area called « the Lebanon » beside the official market. I cook chapati, chai, food for the lunch. Before i used to work at a place called Fire. When I met sister Reachel and brother Laurent, we discussed and this was the beginning to discover about the literacy class. For me it brought me hope.

When I was a kid I didn't have chance to go to school, life was very hard. My mother used to live alone and had to take care of me, my brothers and sisters. It was difficult to find the daily food, so we didn't even think about going to school. My mother spent her time to find solutions to feed us.

I had to leave early my family to be a housewife in order to survive and support my family. I had to fight hard until I met my husband, then as together we could improve our situation.

Still I used to feel the pain of not knowing how to read and write. It didn't give me chance to find a better job, because I was asked to read, sign, I used to feel bad. I didn't imagine there could be a place to learn to read and write for us adults.

When I met Reachel and Laurent i saw a chance to hope new things. Even at the beginning i was very shy, worried and was wondering where do i go ? I didn't feel confidence. I tried to attend all classes but sometimes i missed one... Life is still difficult, i have to leave home at 4.00 am, I'm working all day long, i have to run... But every tuesday, thursday, friday i do all i can to join the group of learner. Sometimes i have to carry with me the food i sell, all my bucket, its not so easy.

One challenge was to face the look of people around me, their words – they laugh at me, joking about me going to a class, leaving my job. But I am determined.

We begin at 2 pm and finish before 4. I feel a lot of joy to be part of the group. I see i need to make a lot of effort to improve. And we help each other; we pay attention that nobody is lost. Even myself i have chance to find support with my children, even if before they used to laugh about me in my first lessons. But they are proud of me because now I know how to read and write. Now we take a time to read together.

The atmosphere in the class is very good, it's important, we feel the teachers love what they are doing. They commit themselves with their heart, they support us, they follow us in our rhythm. The way they teach is lively, the videos they use are lively.

Today I manage to buy at the best prices, i can read the pack, i can change, count my money when i have to buy, i stop losing money in my small business. It makes me happy, I feel much more better in my life in general – because before it was like if I felt disable, it was difficult to communicate, I used to stay silent.

I never thought i could have this chance one day – i think of all of us who didn't have chance to go to school, i would tell them if they hear about such an opportunity that they don't hesitate to go, don't hesitate to learn – that way we can overcome ignorance.

Celebrating 17 October- Dar-Es-Salaam
14/10/2016
Jenifa Ninaitwa
Tanzania

For those who don't dare to come we would say stop feeling ashamed.

My name is Masudi, I come from Arusha, Meru and today I live around the Fish Market, working as fisherman according to the needs. I live in the Lebanon, to so-called place besides the official Fish Market. I got news about the Literacy Class from Issa Mfaume, who registered my name. He committed to invite all people living around to access the class. I knew just the week before that a class would begin, in the offices of the Fish Market.

Its something very good for me because I don't know really know how to read and write. I couldn't read the news or letters. I'm a musician, I like to sing but I cannot read text of singing. I have a dream to write songs, but until now I didn't manage.

In my family it was hard to finish school, it was too hard for my mum to support us to follow school. She had to raise us alone. I tried a vocational training, to be a metal maker but the same way we lacked of money to continue. I decided to leave Arusha to find a job in Dar es Salaam. I felt life would be easier. I first arrived in Ubungo ant then I went to the Fish Market to find money. There we are a group of young living as we can.

I try to attend all classes, I don't really feel difficulties to learn. My main difficulty is to see, because I lost a bit of my eyesight because of the activity of welding I did. I used to receive a lot of dust in the eyes, we didn't have protection. But it doesn't matter, I want to learn, I like it so I choose always to sit down closest as possible to the black board.

I tried to remind my friends that today is the class, I try to motivate them. The young who are going to fish during the night cannot come back to the class. They tried but its too difficult. I think for example about my friend Samuel, for him its too difficult, he's too tired to follow the class. Most of the young have to fight every day, they don't have choice, they have to go to work and miss the class.

The way we learn is not far from the way I saw in school. Maybe the difference is the atmosphere. We feel as a family, really. We meet together, we exchange, we support the neighbor besides. If someone misses one day we try to show him the next time what we did. We try to progress together. In school, I didn't manage to catch up, here I feel free, more responsible.

Before we didn't know each other very well, we just cross each other. Now we are friends. But we see people not able to follow, giving up.

Its important to know how to read and write because we fight to overcome ignorance. I feel myself more open minded. My friends of learners say it's helpful for them in their daily struggle for business. Some says it gives us freedom, for example when we have to move in town, to identify the places, the transport. In our community when you know how to read and write you feel more respected, recognized.

All of us feel joy to go to the class, with the feeling to progress, to see the world opening for us. Some say as well they feel like a relief. Now we feel part of the community as anyone.

And for those who didn't come, who don't dare to come we would say join the group, stop feeling ashamed. Some told me “you waste your time, you should go to work now” - but I tell them there's no age to learn, not a better moment more than another. There's no limit to learn. The most important is not losing hope.

Celebrating 17 October- Dar-Es-Salaam
14/10/2016
Masudi