ATD : All Together in Dignity
An international movement
ATD Fourth World is an international movement that seeks and experiments with ways to tackle the causes of poverty. Created in 1957 by Joseph Wresinski, with families living in an emergency housing camp near Paris. Today, with the same mission, there are 400 permanent volunteers working in 30 countries around the world, in Africa, North and South America, the Indian Ocean, Asia and Europe.
We carry out actions on the ground that bring culture and the sharing of knowledge in very poor neighborhoods, and bring people from different backgrounds together. We develop projects that aim to make the voices, experiential knowledge and intelligence of people living in situations of poverty heard by the general population and decision-makers.
The international movement ATD Fourth World has an advisory status at the United Nations, Unesco, Unicef, OIT, Europe Council, etc. The movement is the initiator of the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty and organized the first gathering on October 17th 1987. The day was officially recognized as the International Day to Eliminate Poverty by the United Nations in 1992.
ATD Fourth World is an international non-governmental organization with no religious or political affiliation.
To learn more about the international movement, its history, its vision, its functioning: visit the international website. In the contact page you will also find the national websites of the countries, as well as the places of presence of ATD Fourth World in the world on this map. Finally, you can also learn more about ATD Fourth World’s mission to the United Nations here.
ATD Fourth World is in Quebec since 1982. Local groups exist in many regions and a permanent team established in Montreal coordinates their work from the ATD Fourth World’s house. The team run different projects in under-resourced neighborhoods (Street Libraries,Festival of Learning), as well as projects aimed at encouraging the participation of people living in poverty (Peoples’ Universities, Merging Knowledge Projects), and also public campaigns aimed at influencing public opinion and government policy (Law Committee 112, October 17th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty), as well as ongoing actions in Québec.
Poverty is a violation of human rights, it undermines the dignity of those who experience it. Our fight is to eradicate poverty. Just as slavery was abolished, our societies must end the scandal of poverty.
To achieve this, ATD Fourth World fights for deep and radical changes:
- Knowing each other better to live better together: We must tackle prejudice, fear, indifference, break down barriers in our schools, our neighborhoods, our workplaces…. It is the opposite of every man for himself.
- Act and Think “with” and not “for”: We must recognize and listen to the knowledge and intelligence of people who live in situations of poverty, they are the first experts in the fight against poverty. It is the opposite of assistance.
- Enforce respect for fundamental rights: Food, housing, health care, learning, family life… are rights that a society must guarantee for all. It is the opposite of charity.
In Quebec, we update and follow a programmation that several of our members establish every 4 years. It specifies our local objectives. Our 2022-2026 programmation can be viewed online.
ATD Fourth World develops actions at three levels:
- Local actions, in disadvantaged neighborhoods, to meet those who have a difficult life, and create links of reciprocal exchange. To bring about these encounters, our tools are culture and the sharing of knowledge.
- Citizen participation actions, to allow encounters and exchanges between people from different backgrounds, and to recognize the experiential knowledge of those who live in situations of poverty.
- Actions at the political level, to make the voices of the voiceless heard, to challenge public opinion and governments so that they make commitments to end poverty.
Activists are at the heart of all we do. The poorest are the first to refuse misery. They fight daily to change their lives and those of their children and loved ones. They are people who have themselves endured poverty, and who choose to share the knowledge and experience gleaned from their resistance with others. ATD Fourth World activists seek out and support those even more marginalized than themselves, working to make sure everyone has their place.
Volunteer Corps members
The Volunteer Corps that staffs ATD Fourth World is composed of people who work to overcome poverty alongside at-risk populations. Volunteer Corps members of all ages come from diverse social and cultural origins backgrounds. Some are single, others have families. They all share a common commitment to working together to build a more just world.
All members of the Volunteers Corps receive a modest living stipend, no matter their seniority, experience, or qualifications. This voluntary simplicity allows them to stay close to those who are less fortunate. It is a choice that invites a new type of relationship and creates a new type of society — one without exclusion, where no one will be disparaged or considered inferior to anyone else.
Allies, Supporters and Friends are people of all walks of life acting in solidarity with people who live in extreme poverty. They reach out to their neighbors and colleagues to engage them in building a more inclusive society. Many of them volunteer their time to run Fourth World Street Libraries, to translate articles for this website, to fundraise, or to support the fight to end poverty in a variety of other ways.