International Movement ATD Fourth World

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The prototype of the International Fourth World Movement was founded in 1957, in a camp for homeless families outside Paris, by the late Father Joseph Wresinski, a Catholic priest, who himself grew up in poverty. " Aide à Toute Détresse"-Help for All Distress- was the first name of the association. The name Fourth World came later and was coined by the founder after the Fourth Estate of the French Revolution, which comprised the very poorest people struggling to be represented in the political changes of the time.

Today ATD Fourth World operates in eight Europeans countries, Northern and Central America, and several countries in Africa and Asia.

The Movement has three major lines of action:

  • grass-roots presence and involvement among very poor families and communities, in housing estates, slums and isolated shanty towns;
  • research into poverty undertaken with the people concerned;
  • campaigning and mobilising public opinion at local, national and international levels.

The importance placed on the family unit by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities has dictated ATD Fourth World’s focus on the family. Also in accordance with the wishes of the very poor, programmes emphasise education and training. These include nursery schools, family centres, literacy and basic skills training, regular Fourth World University gatherings and artistic and cultural programmes with children and young people.

Members of its Volunteer Corps take long-term responsibility for ATD Fourth World’s programmes. Of different nationalities, faiths and professions, they bear witness to the courage and endurance of families living in poverty and foster links between these families and mainstream society.

The International Movement ATD Fourth World is committed to representing people living in extreme poverty at an international level. It has general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), UNICEF, UNESCO, ILO and the Council of Europe and has a permanent delegation at the European Union Commission and the European Parliament. It aims to unite the experience and knowledge gained from people living in extreme poverty through it’s numerous grass-roots projects with the academic-based knowledge of the various international institutions.

To achieve its goals the International Movement ATD Fourth World:

  • Has International Representation with International organisations
  • Participates in International Summits and Conferences
  • Organises International Events and Conferences (such as the celebration of World Days)
  • Facilitates the participation of people living in extreme poverty at at international level
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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.

Joseph Wresinski

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