As always on the 17th of October, ATD alongside the 17 October committee launched our annual event at the Human Rights and Poverty Stone, Dublin, to mark the UN International Eradication of Poverty Day. This years chosen international theme was “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty”.
In relation to this, we chose a sub-theme of ‘footsteps for a better future’ and so we placed hundreds of colored footprints of peoples dreams (many of those written by children) that we had collected over the past months as well as on the day, from the famine statues to the poverty stone as a sign of hope.
The audience was treated to a mix of music, testimony, speeches and good humour at this event. Importantly there were many young people in attendance to sing, present, play music, read and also to listen, hear and learn .
Deputy Lord Mayor Tom Brabazon explained that the End Poverty day is marked all around the world. “We honour the countless thousands who suffer. We are mindful of the theme, acting together to empower children and their families”. Children’s rights change over time and access to education irrespective of religion, race and difference is important to all. Budgets when devised must look to see impact upon a child. Special needs children who need assistance need to be consulted in terms of their needs. The “Footsteps” central to today’s event are our “life hopes” for the end to poverty.
Mr Maurice Hurley of Global Citizenship Schools was MC for the event and he commented on the fact that there are 100,000 children living in poverty in Ireland today. He later explained that where he came upon the words “condemned to a life of poverty” he discerned that the word condemned literally means “sentenced to” and asked how it can be that a blameless child can be sentenced to anything? He asserted that poverty is man-made and can therefore be overcome. It takes a willing to implement policy change to ensure that poverty can be overcome.
At the heart of the event were 6 moving testimonies (which we will upload in a further post), which were so powerfully read by people with direct experiences of poverty, who are striving to create a better future for their children. Those giving testimonies included people with experiences of the homeless services, direct provision and addiction.
Saoirse from the Children’s Rights Alliance (A Membership organisation of 100 members) then explained that this year is the 30th anniversary of the rights of the child and Ireland has voluntarily signed up to this. 100 years ago the Parliament in Ireland met for the first time and we signed up to our responsibility to care for the children of Ireland. Child poverty is not inevitable and the government can take steps to ensure that no children should be in poverty. The Irish Times along with Children’s Rights Alliance came together in the No child 2020 Campaign to highlight all issues that pertain to child poverty. There are nearly 4000 children without a home. There are children in creches hiding food for siblings. There are too many children in Direct Provision. The No Child 2020 campaign will keep these issues on the various national agendas.
The event finished when Maurice Hurley thanked all who attended and helped in the preparation of the day. He paid special tribute to the powerful testimonies that we heard and thanked the speakers for their frankness, their honesty and for their sharing which when personal can be difficult but he assured us that until and unless we listen to and hear the experience of those left behind we cannot possibly hope to make the progress that we need to make so that all will feel the difference that “overcoming poverty” can achieve. Refreshments, singing and dancing (led by the SAOL sisters) then continued in Liberty Hall, after the event.
Again, on behalf of ATD and the committee we would like to thank all who participated and for making it such a beautiful and special occasion.