Friday, June 12, 2009

All about ATD Fourth World Philippines

All Together in Dignity (ATD) Fourth World is an international non-governmental organization with no religious or political affiliation who works with individuals and institutions to find solutions to eradicate extreme poverty. Working in partnership with people in poverty, ATD Fourth World’s human rights-based approach focuses on supporting families and individuals through its grass-roots presence and involvement in disadvantaged communities, in both urban and rural areas. It creates public awareness of extreme poverty and influence policies to address it.

It was founded in 1957 in a shantytown near Paris, France, by Fr. Joseph Wresinski (1917-1988) who grew up in poverty himself. Presently, ATD is in 30 countries around the world. It has consultative status with the United Nations and the Council of Europe, as a result of our long-term grass-roots commitment and poverty research work undertaken with poor individuals and families.

On November 2008, ATD Fourth World was awarded an honourable mention of the prestigious UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the promotion of a Culture of Human Rights. The award, given every two years, rewards the efforts of institutions, organizations and individuals that have made a particularly important contribution to the promotion of human rights through education and research, and through efforts to raise the awareness of decision-makers and the general public.

ATD Fourth World Philippines has been in existence since 1989. Full time Swiss volunteer Johanna Stadelmann set up the Philippine office upon the invitation of then Secretary Estefania Aldaba-Lim of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Through the assistance and support from friends and some organizations, ATD Philippines has established links with 4 Manila impoverished communities, namely North Cemetery, Hilum and Lozada in Pandacan, Ilalim ng Tulay (Under the Bridge) at Quirino Avenue in Paco. The team also regularly visits resettlement areas of some of the ATD families in Bulacan and Laguna which are located outside Metro Manila.

To honor victims of poverty, Commemorative Stones have been created in different ATD member countries. In the Philippines, there are three commemorative Stones: Manila (Rizal Park), Davao and Mizamis Occidental.

Presently, the Philippine team is composed of 4 full time volunteers: Sarah Ortega , Elisabeth Lavrand, Anne- Sylvie Laurent and Ruth Mores.

In all the communities, ATD Philippines has the following regular programs:

1) Street Libraries
In the different communities, volunteers and friends conduct book reading and story telling, drawing and painting to stimulate the children's learning capability and creativity. The program is also designed to involve the older boys and girls to assist their younger siblings to express their potential skills and talents.

2) Forums/Workshops
In this gathering, the adults from the communities share and express their life experiences. It is also an opportunity to dialogue with people from other backgrounds and to build mutual understanding and respect.

3) Festival of Learning.
During summer months, ATD celebrates the Festival of Learning. It is an educational, recreational and cultural event for children who have less opportunity to enjoy the summer vacation. Activities include book reading, story telling, arts and crafts workshops, drama sessions and presentations to hone their potential talents. Outings with their families also provide sources of learning, time to enjoy beauty of nature and more importantly to celebrate life! Artists and friends are welcome to join and share the best of their talents and skills.

4) International Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty.
Every year on October 17, the International Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty, people from all sections of society gather together with people living in poverty to renew the call for a common commitment to overcome extreme poverty.

Aside from these programs, ATD has done Tapori campaigns or children programs. Tapori is a worldwide network of friendship between children of all backgrounds. The children exchange letters, art works, and other forms of communication to learn from each other. Through these exchanges, they are able to be connected despite distance, language, religion and culture.
One of ATD’s newest programs is mentoring and tutorial to out-of-school youths. This program was initiated borne out of the concern of many parents to prevent their children from taking drugs and sniffing rugby.

It has been a conscious action of ATD Philippines, in the past four years, to be semi-financially independent to be able to fund its local programs. Through the initiative and help of the friends, the team has conducted annual fundraising activities to raise money, create awareness in the poverty situation and to attract new friends to join the movement. During these fundraising events, every one (families, volunteers and friends) contribute their skills and resources.

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