26 Mar

Eyes Full of Wonder – the ATD 2018 Spring Message

In the end, sharing the best of ourselves is the surest path to ending exclusion.

Joseph Wresinski

Elisa’s red dress shines under the spotlight. She moves forward, smiling, and starts to sing in a melodic language, both strange and foreign. She is joined on stage by her two brothers and her parents, all dressed in traditional costume. Together, they join their voices in an enchanting song, which is enthusiastically applauded by the audience.

Elisa is tiny. At ten years old, she looks about six. She is the youngest child of the most denigrated family in the neighbourhood — a family that is singled out; labelled as the one that causes trouble, that does not take care of itself, that makes a lot of noise. Again and again, Elisa and her brothers have pushed their neighbours over the edge. Their behaviour, like that of their parents, was often misunderstood.

Yet, for a few weeks now, Elisa and her family have been taking part in a theatre workshop led by a theatre professional and a member of the ATD Volunteer Corps. How many times did they knock on the family’s door to convince them that beyond the difficulties of everyday life, they had a place in this workshop? The two workshop leaders needed to believe in the family, believe with them and even more strongly than them, support, encourage, and overcome the obstacles. They had a long way to go, and it wouldn’t just happen by magic.

But this evening the family gets a standing ovation. Elisa’s eyes are full of wonder. How beautiful her mother is! How elegant her father looks in his suit! How proud she feels seeing her family under the spotlight and the admiring gaze of the audience! She won’t soon forget the applause.

The performance took the audience on a journey. Elisa’s song moved them. This evening, her family members were able to tell their story and to express their fight to live in dignity. Their words, so strong and sincere, touched people.

Some days later, Elisa’s father and brother were invited to go fishing by their next-door neighbour. It was an opportunity to spend time together, to bond, and to build friendship.

If only we lived in a society that made it possible for all of us to hold our heads up and to meet one another simply and openly.

To create experiences and cultural projects that bring people together, the teams of ATD around the world and ATD Ireland need your support and donations.

Isabelle Pypaert Perrin
Director General
ATD International
Member of the Board
of ATD Ireland

This message is an invitation to support ATD’s grassroots work with the most disadvantaged children, young people, and families in order to build relationships of solidarity between them and people of very different walks of life.

Your gift can make a difference.

If you would like to make a donation online to ATD Ireland, please click here.
If you would like to make a one-time donation online to ATD International,
please click here.
Or to make a regular monthly pledge to ATD International, please click here.