Joseph Wresinski Centre

Writing the history of the Fourth World

Father Joseph Wresinski, founder of ATD Fourth World, experienced extreme poverty during his youth. From that point on he was convinced that good intentions were not enough to overcome poverty and exclusion. A thorough knowledge of the most underprivileged families’ personal histories was also needed. Thus, he always wanted to make this knowledge a priority for ATD Fourth World.

The purpose of this approach is two-fold :

To allow to the most underprivileged families to:

  • Become conscious of their own collective identity and of their common history, a precondition that allows them to dialogue with other groups of society,
  • Transmit to their children pride in their history of courage and resilience to extreme poverty and exclusion, that will liberate them from their confinement and allow them to take an active place within society.

·To allow society to :

  • Benefit from the priceless contribution of Father Joseph Wresinski’s thinking in the fight against extreme poverty and exclusion.
  • Appreciate the valuable contribution of underprivileged families to society (courage, endurance, humour) which is most often ignored.
  • Understand the forces and the expectations, which inhabit the most underprivileged people in order to act in accordance and to build partnerships with them.
  • Understand the mechanisms of extreme poverty and exclusion in order to stop their transmission from generation to generation.
  • Have a strong basis from which to elaborate the tools required to facilitate the action and the training of professionals and citizens who participate in the fight against extreme poverty and exclusion and to offer innovative ways and means to fight extreme poverty.

The wealth of knowledge of those in extreme poverty that ATD Fourth World has collected over the last 50 years has often been kept in many locations that did not allow for proper cataloguing or referencing.

Thus the Joseph Wresinski Centre aims to give the fight against extreme poverty and exclusion the tools which Joseph Wresinski wanted so much. The mission of this Centre is also two-fold:

  • To assemble and to protect materials contributing to the collective knowledge of those in living extreme poverty that has been collected by ATD Fourth World: written documents, audio recordings, audio-visual recordings and photographs.
  • To highlight and promote this exceptional knowledge in a dignified manner respecting the confidentiality of the people who have trusted ATD Fourth World with their experiences and history.