It was a hot, sunny, Saturday afternoon when members of ATD Fourth World Movement gathered at City Park in New Orleans for a Crawfish Boil Picnic as part of the Stop Poverty 2017 Campaign (www.poverty-stop.org). About 72 people, including 25 children, attended the gathering. Some people we had not seen for a long while showed up, including members of the Collins family. We had a great time. A Crawfish Boil is part of the great culture in New Orleans; an outdoor meal of traditional foods shared with family and friends. Everybody served themselves from the large serving bowls, choosing their favorites of hot sausage, corn on the cob, and of course the crawfish.
Workshops were set up for people to get to know one another, be creative, and mobilize around the Stop Poverty campaign themes. They included:
- Free style painting and face painting – for children and adults!
- A Tapori Children’s Story of Courage Storytelling – Read by Raven Smith
- Singing and music – led by Timothee Leguellec, Lani Ramos, and Maria Victoire
- Discussion and reflection about Joseph Wresinski – led by Sr. Jane McKinlay
People enjoyed the workshops. We saw happy faces on Lionel and others who loved singing songs such as “This Little Light of Mine” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” together, while children tapped on tambourines and guitars. Maria Victoire taught everyone the song written by ATD Fourth World members in the Central African Republic, “Zo Kwe Zo”. This song says, “Each of us is a person. We are together, one.” It is being learned and performed by people around the world as part of the Stop Poverty Campaign. You can listen to it here. We were surprised to hear people singing in a different language, and Lionel said, “I love the song!” We finished the music part with Lani Ramos singing some Janis Joplin songs. We had great fun singing together!
The face painting and free style painting workshops were popular. Elise, a Tulane student who is volunteering with us helped people paint a banner that can be carried at the October 17 World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty march later this year. Almost all the children got their faces painted. Some adults did too, including Shayla, a mother of four young boys, who was excited to participate with them. Sr. Jane McKinlay chose an excerpt from something Joseph Wresinski had written that was meaningful to her. She read that text with others and led a group discussion on how others interpret and find meaning in the words.
After the meal Bob Mauss told the history of Fr. Joseph Wresinski, who from his childhood to adulthood took care of his family, and with people living at the temporary housing Camp of Noisy Le Grand near Paris, founded ATD Fourth World Movement. After Bob’s speech, thirteen-year-old Raven Smith helped lead everyone in a group game which allowed people to connect with each other and learn more about Wresinski, ATD Fourth World, and Tapori. Michelle Collins, a delegate at the ATD Fourth World Children’s Forum in Switzerland in 1999, helped read out some answers to the game, increasing everyone’s knowledge a bit. She was very proud to tell people about her participation at the Children’s Forum 18 years ago. EJ, Michelle’s cousin, was also proud to point out he knew some of the facts about Wresinski, even ones Michelle didn’t know!
This gathering was a part of the mobilization of people around the United States and the world joining their voices to Stop Poverty. You can sign the international Call to Action and join them here. As people were going home from City Park, they asked when the next big gathering will be. We reminded them that in New Orleans the finale for this campaign will be the October 17 commemoration and we need everyone to get ready!