In the short film "From Brooklyn to the United Nations", Alvenia Hutton, a young African-American aged 26, describes how she got to know ATD Fourth World.
"What's really fascinating", says Kanokkarn Nakpassorn, the permanent ATD Fourth World volunteer who produced From Brooklyn to the United Nations, "is that we can witness the different stages that have enabled Alvenia, over the years, to go from a street library in Brooklyn to leading an event held at the UN's headquarters during the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, held on 17 October 2010". Kanokkarn also works on translating several webdoc shorts into English. She adds, "ATD Fourth World often shows us people in poverty engaging in dialogue, but rarely lets us see how they prepare for it. This is portrayed in the different films in a way that's very tangible and topical from an international perspective".
Getting the poorest sectors of society involved begins with associations, as demonstrated by the steering committee of ATD Fourth World's group in Angers (see the short film "An example of joint decision-making") or Fourth World's assembly in Port-au Prince in Haiti ("Rebuilding with Everyone for Everyone"). Participation of this kind is spreading slowly but surely to other spheres of activity, for example the European Institutions, as an upcoming short will show. In From Brooklyn to the United Nations, Alvenia continues her story. She visited the United Nations for the first time at the age of 11 or 12 with the street library. There, she discovered that the effects of poverty aren't limited to ethnic minorities - white people are affected too. One word keeps coming back to her: "culture". For Alvenia, it also means encounters, trust and collective commitment, among others things. "Thanks to what I have seen and understood, she says, I know there's more out that than what we think, and that it is not inaccessible. I needed to be given an opportunity, and things started to happen."
Hope is still far off.
As one person puts it in "Rebuilding with Everyone for Everyone", which was filmed in Haiti, "Families living in the deepest poverty want their vision of the future to be taken into account, and that the projects be close to this vision". Hope is still far off, as this short film clearly shows that the international organisations that arrived in Port-au-Prince after the earthquake in January 2010 paid little heed to the experiences of families living there on a permanent basis. Yet the webdoc "Unheard Voices" demonstrates that change is possible. From people in poverty's side, we're ready for this.