Every year since 1993, the United Nations has recognized October 17th as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. On this day, nations around the world are encouraged to focus on the issue of poverty and to devote time and resources to activities that work toward the goal of its eradication. The origins of this day of poverty awareness lie in the Trocadéro area in the heart of Paris, where the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed. Almost four decades later, on October 17th, 1987, over one hundred thousand people came together at this same spot to show solidarity with those who live in poverty. They asserted that poverty is a violation of human rights (United Nations website).
In fact, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights supports their claim. Article 25 of the declaration states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Everyone deserves conditions that meet a basic standard of living. It is everyone’s responsibility to work together to make sure these conditions exist, including poor people themselves. The UN acknowledges that those who live in poverty are key actors in the fight against it.
The inequitable distribution of resources is one of the main factors contributing to poverty so it seems one of the solutions will involve sharing global wealth. To those who are healthy and happy with themselves, sharing comes naturally. At IBREA, it is our belief that people are better able to help themselves and others when they have first focused inside their own minds and bodies and found happiness within. Once people are aware of themselves and their value, they are better able to fully realize their own potential and hopefully, in this case, find their way out of poverty.
Today IBREA’s volunteers attended the UN’s event in honor of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and we heard these beliefs reflected back at us. Speakers from an organization called ATD Fourth World talked about the inherent dignity in each individual, including poor people. They quoted poor people they had worked with in Latin America and said that these people demanded to be heard; they viewed themselves as equal actors in solving these problems, not as victims to be handed crumbs. When poor people do not reach their full potential, it is not just them who suffer but also the rest of us, who do not reap the benefits of their unique value and skills.