For centuries, people around the world have built memorials to both suffering and heroism. We hold ceremonies to honor those who have endured injustice or died fighting it. Through such memorials and ceremonies, we remind ourselves of war, slavery, oppression, and genocide with the hope: “never again.”
But when do we recall the suffering and injustice that extreme poverty inflicts on people whose resistance leaves no trace upon the earth? They are buried in unmarked graves. Their neighborhoods are erased from our maps. Their words are forgotten.
October 17, the World Day for Overcoming Poverty, is a time to commemorate both the oppression and the courage of people in extreme poverty. This day expresses hope for an end to the brutality and contempt inflicted on the most vulnerable people everywhere. Commemorating this day demonstrates our belief that these people, scorned and ignored, are in fact vitally important to our communities and our nations. It shows that, together, we want to put an end to discrimination and to build a better future.