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
Spain

How collecting scrap metal on a daily basis provides a living.

Necessity forces you to get out of the house, when you have no other choice. I would like to wake up every morning and go to a regular work place. Before I used to work and I enjoyed that lifestyle of security and a regular income every month.

It allowed me to have a more comfortable lifestyle, to eat out with my wife, do the shopping etc, but now with the recession, it's harder to find work.

I am able to claim a benefit but can't manage to live on it. I have to go out of the house to find enough money for food, or for things for the house. Collecting scrap metal provides work for a lot of people nowadays.

I use my bike as I live quite faraway from everything and there is no rubbish dump in my village. If I go with a cart it is very slow. With the bike I manage to do more and to get home to spend time with my children.

This lifestyle is very hard, as some days I can find enough to allow us to buy things for the house, milk or meat, etc,but other days, I earn 3E and have no money to take home.

It's hard physical work and tiring, working with the metal, but I put up with it. It's difficult to live like this, with little means, and not harming anyone.

Some days it's so desperate that you don't feel like living any more. Because you're really in desperate situation and you don't find anything.

There are people who insult you and who antagonise you, it makes it more difficult and makes life harder.

When people insult me I try not to reply, to not turn around. I continue on my way. It's a waste of time replying. One day I was on my bike and a person blocked my way with their car.

If I was physically attacked, how would I manage to feed my children ?

Sometimes it's the other way around. Once I had cut my hand and a man stopped and gave me a tissue and looked after the wound.  It's a glimmer of hope when people who don't know you understand and approach you and help you, not financially.

That motivates me and makes the day a better one.

05/09/2016
My blue bicycle.
International

Overcoming Poverty 2015: Videos on Education for All

Karina and Jenifer from Guatemala, and Eden from the Philippines, take action alongside others to help ensure access to learning and a decent education for all children. They delivered their personal stories to mark the 2015 “World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty,” October 17. Reinforcing the testimonies of people around the world striving to overcome poverty all year long, their stories on video also contributed to the United Nation’s commemoration of the day in New York.

You can watch their videos at this link

Eden Mañalac lives in North Cemetery in Manila, Philippines. Along with other community members, as well as friends from other neighborhoods, she takes part in her country’s efforts to ensure that all children have access to quality education.

Karina Hombrados is a street vendor in Escuintla, Guatemala. She reads with her children whom she can longer afford to send to school. For her, a good school that provide a decent education is one in which teachers are motivated and work in partnership with parents to reinforce values and learning.

Jenifer Betzabé Orozco is a 21-year-old student living in a working-class neighborhood in Guatemala City. She explains how difficult it is to keep up one’s studies when you struggle in poverty every day.

08/12/2015
Eden, Karina, Jenifer
Hungary

Have We Lost Them? - Invisible Children

The phrase child-poverty is without meaning for many people. There is no shivering associated with it for the ones who remotely know its meaning. Many think that all of it is the parents’ responsibility. And for sure, it is not part of the responsibilities of others. Yes, that is a good excuse.

Why does one give birth if they can’t afford to raise a child?” or “Why would anyone care for someone else’s child?”

It is easy to say such arguments from the distance. Looking at the question from afar, one does not need to understand the complexities of the problem.

Looking from close by however, the walls raised by stereotypes fall down.

I remember the first time I entered the home of one of my students. They got their electricity from a neighbouring house through an extension cord, they brought water from a public well in 5 litre detergent cans and all their furniture was made up of undone beds, a fireplace used for both heating and cooking and a single shelf that held the populous family’s all clothing, dishes and toiletries next to the inevitable TV.

As I was standing there it came to my mind, what do we want from these kids in the school? What do we want with the Pythagorean theorem, coal production or industrial revolution?

How can we expect these kids to be excited and alert in school? How could homework be done here, where basic needs are not met?

How can a future different than the current situation be outlined?

Then, for years I have been trying to understand the “Why?”-s. I had to understand concepts such as the hereditary-poverty, learned-helplessness and this strange, 21st century poverty mixed with contradictions, where 19th century survival techniques and satellite TVs or mobile-phones - thanks to the consumerist society - can coexist. I experienced how can the positive effects of the school be wiped completely in the living environment and how the education, which is moving further and further away from being opportunity equalizing, is contributing to the children being stuck in those circumstance. I have been analyzing the system of causes affecting the children which today has very few elements that would help them move forward.

I am not sure whether we will ever have the power to break this viscous cycle which is continuously raising the number of people living in extreme poverty in the most disadvantaged micro-regions of the country. Will we ever be able to fight the determining powers of full-time-motherhood, “it-will-work-out-somehow situations”, working-off-the-book, criminalization and the foster-work-carrier?

Education reforms? Foster-work? Prevention? Screening-examinations? Catching-up? Settlement closures? Housing programs? And the list goes on of the attempts that never reach the ones who live in the deepest poverty.

We are running in circles, talking about them but, of course, without them. We come up with well-crafted slogans and campaigns, we use statistics to justify the positive change but one thing does not change, the lives of the ones living in extreme poverty.

The grandparents today left the school system with decreasing knowledge and insufficient knowledge which they passed on to their children. Then the knowledge decreased further in the parents’ generation.

We are here with the teenagers locked into poverty and under-education waiting at home to become adults.

And the ones who come after us will be in the similar situation. There is nothing to break the cycle. We have lost them.

Solution? At this point it is already a difficult question. I see it with certainty that for the future generations we have to work with the current one. We are late to change them because their socialization with this complicated system of problems is stronger than everything else. But it needs to be made up for what they did not get when they should have so their children will see a different path to follow. One with power, perseverance, respect for rules, motivation and responsibility. Everything that is missing but is necessary for the development of the children needs to be filled in.

Complex problem solving, unified effects, real job opportunities, tolerance, solidarity, community development. Nice words. It would be great if one day all of these would actually be present within the system.

For example, instead of the segregated education, the 16 years of obligatory schooling or the foster work program.

Then the report on the situation from me on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty would not be so bitter.

There is a photo I took a few years ago. A young girl with shining eyes and flowers on her face. At that time she was 8. She was happy because she won with her drawing on an international competition in Poland. This photo makes the viewer smile.

However, for me, it makes my stomach cramp. Because I know that she was 11 when she became a prostitute as a result of poverty and even when we took her out, it was too late. For me she is another victim of poverty. Someone whose life cannot be turned around from this path.

When one thinks about such a life story, one can find so many points of possible intervention, where this outcome could have been prevented. Many are responsible, who could have done that.

All of us are responsible for what we call child-poverty . The ones who look away, the ones who nod for everything, the ones who don’t care, the ones who make the decisions, the ones who push away the responsibility, the ones who bring the statistics or the news and the ones who manipulate.

In the meantime, all of us are dreaming about a liveable country, however we cannot initiate a real progress. Perhaps, the reason for it is that within us no change has started yet.

20/11/2015
Nóra R., - Translated by Réka Zempléni
Mauritius

Yes, there is development, but not for everyone.

Collective Witness of the Residents of the Port Louis Night Shelter

Yes, there is Development, but not for everyone. Give us a chance to contribute to it as well

For us, the temporary residents of the “Night Shelter”, if there is a reason for us being here, it's because of the problem of finding lodgings. We are here temporarily while waiting for a solution to our problems.

We would like to launch an appeal with regard to the housing problem.

We are saying that there is development, but not for everybody.

We realise that where there is exclusion, our human rights are not respected. Besides, the word “exclusion” shouldn't exist at all. This idea of excluding people should not exist.

It is said that the country is in the process of development, but there are always those who are falling through the cracks. Those living in extreme poverty know that better than most.

There are houses that have been built at the foot of the mountains (temporary lodgings). Every time it rains, there are landslides and the buildings collapse.

How many people have died there when there were those torrential downpours? Yet those buildings were put up as part of a development project.

Well, there is development, but what counts is that it lasts.

In order to get lodgings, we have to take out a mortgage over a period of 20 years. But we don't have permanent work. After 2 or 3 years, we find ourselves here again (in the night shelter).

In our country, most of the people doing small jobs aren't in work. Employers don't hire us, they prefer to recruit foreign workers. Why?

Because they are cheaper? Because they bring in more money? Because they work better? We don't even know why.

Suppose someone has been to prison, so he wants to turn over a new leaf. So he needs to work. But he is told “no, there is no solution because our past isn't desirable.” These days everything depends on morals. But don't you need money as well? Every day one needs money to live on. For everything in life one needs money. And that's why, in the long run, some start to steal and from that moment, we are considered as criminals. And then it's easy to succumb to despair, alcoholism, drugs …

Sometimes, even if there is work, the wages we are offered discourage us. There are even places you cannot enter with old slippers on your feet.

That's why we are saying that a lasting development is not for us. We have nothing to gain from it. 50% of us little people are in prison. Here, it's the law that rules supreme. If you raise your voice, you risk being put in jail again. But it is very rare for at least two people to sit down with us and to listen to us to prepare our message. Elsewhere, perhaps you won't find such a moment, you don't find it.

As far as we are concerned, lasting development is not taking place for us. For some, yes, it is good... But it should be done in a way that profits everyone.

We are confident that the government could change things because everything is in their hands and they know the situation.

For example, when there is a cyclone, the government helps the victims via the Prime Minister's Relief Fund. We believe that the State could ask the private sector to transfer a certain amount of money per month to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund to help fight poverty.

But however many people there are giving aid, it won't be easy to overcome poverty. If we think negatively we will always have problems, we need to cultivate a positive attitude. Working together, reflecting together, getting together to create a lasting development where everyone gets a part of the cake, rather than one taking one part and the other receiving just a small piece of sugar.

To shape our future, we want a lasting development on which we have left our mark.

23/10/2015
Collective Witness of the Residents of the Port Louis Night Shelter
Belgium

Visiting this area gives me hope!

"Last week I was visited Valeria and her partner. They are an elderly couple that have just been evicted from their house. They have been living in a van behind their house without water, gas or electricity for over a month now.

Sister Marianne told me about them as she lives in the same area. She makes daily visits to numerous people who are living on the streets and also visits families who are living in very unsafe conditions.

The same day Sister Marianne took me to visit Sylvie and her 3 children who live not that far from Valeria. Since their eviction they have been sharing their meals with Sylvie and her children.

Recently, Sylvie saw a message on Facebook from a homeless couple who were asking for help as they were going to be rehoused. They didn't have any pots or pans to cook with. Sylvie gave them her own ones!

Sylvie's children asked her: how are we going to eat tonight? She told them not to worry as she will find other ones in a cheap shop.

Sylvie knows what it's like to not have anything. She has a good friendship with a lady who has helped her to budget in a respectful and considerate manner.

Visiting this area gives me hope! Especially when I saw the teenage daughter of Sylvie returning home from school. When she passed by Valeria's van she stopped with a big smile and embraced her. This moment happened just after Valeria told us how she couldn't take anymore the insults, daily humiliations and people throwing stones at them."

Françoise B. Liège, Belgium, October 2015.

23/10/2015
Françoise B