A precious and revealing history

Dear friends,

You accepted our invitation to be here with us, so how could we not call you friends? You have shown friendship by accepting our invitation and trusting that we are serious in wanting to create ties of friendship and solidarity with you. For that we are grateful.

We are even more grateful because many of you responded spontaneously, from your hearts, sensing perhaps that we would try never to disappoint those who extend to us the hand of friendship. Although you sensed this, you could not yet know it, for you hadn’t yet experienced it. You didn’t really know us yet. Your coming here confirms something said by Mr. Hampaté Bà, your teacher, who has also become ours: “When trust is given spontaneously, there can only be trust in response.”

Now that you are here to get to know us better, I would like, as a way of welcoming you, to say some things about what we are, what we try to be, in the ATD Fourth World Movement. That will take you beyond simple trust and enable you to know us and judge us. But how shall I tell you about us?

Not long ago, Mr. Hampaté Bà, in welcoming a member of our volunteer corps to his home in Abidjan, said, “One way of welcoming a guest is to kill a calf. But you can also do it by sharing with the guest a part of your own history, of the course your life has taken.” And it is true that the history of our movement is our most precious possession — the most precious and the most private as well, because it is not our history, but the history of the poorest of our fellow citizens. They confided their history, all that they knew and carried on their shoulders; and they have allowed us to take part in it with them. In reconstituting their history with us, they have given us a double gift:

  • they have allowed us to change our hearts and our personalities, to become different from what we were before;

  • they have shared not only the humiliation and suffering of their history but also its immeasurable hope. For as suffering increases, so does hope.

So the history of our movement, mixed as it is with that of the most excluded families — those who still know hunger, premature death, and ignorance even in the richest countries — is the most precious thing we can offer you as a welcome. (…)

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  1. Hello

    I hope you are all good, thanks for sharing this important information

    I would like to understand one thing, refer to the history ATD Movement established in Africa 1981 Burkina Faso et Senegal. How did Movement started in Africa, what happened, how did it start?

    I would be thanks full to get information
    Thanks in Advance.

    1. Hello Hemed!

      About the beginnings of ATD in Senegal:
      One of the requests that came out from the friends from Africa gathered during the May 1981 Seminary “Extreme poverty and exclusion in Africa ” was to create on African soil, a place where people working with the most deprived populations would be able to share their experiences, to support, but also to discover each other’s initiatives all around the world. A place where the life experiences, and the hopes of the most excluded would always be present and at the very root of any actions. That is why, in May 1982, Philippe and Elisa Hamel were asked to start what would become the Regional Delegation in Dakar.
      Philippe Hamel wrote about it (unfortunately, only in French) in the Fourth World Review (Revue Quart Monde) in 1989: https://www.revue-quartmonde.org/4139

      About the beginnings of ATD in Burkina Faso:
      A community of “The Ark” from the Movement founded by Jean Vanier called the Ark of Nongremassen (the name of a suburb of Ouagadougou) asked the Movement for support because they were lacking human resources to ensure the ongoing actions in the community. Two members of the Movement, Monique Cogneau and Dominique Guillo, were the first to stay in Ouagadougou, beginning in December 1980.
      Huguette Redegeld mentioned it in 2011, also in the Fourth World Review: https://www.revue-quartmonde.org/5204
      You can also find some more details about the beginnings of ATD in Burkina Faso in the book “La Cour aux cent métiers” by Michel Aussedat.

      I hope this will be helpful to you.

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