Poverty is people. PEOPLE are solution too.

Photo Eva Ungvari

Photo Eva Ungvari

A little more than a week ago EYCE training course “Poverty Exposed: A training course to challenge the patterns of poverty”, which took place form the 4th – 11th of May 2014, came to the end. This training course gathered young people from Europe, as well as Lebanon and Nigeria to discuss the poverty in Europe and globally, and to acquire concrete skills and methods to bring back home to tackle the poverty in their own contexts.

The highlight of the week were the many creative initiatives carried out by the participants and especially the video, supporting the cause of the young girls abducted in Nigeria by Boko Haram. The video was published on EYCE’s Facebook page and drew much attention.

The main aim of the training course was to explore the mechanisms that lie behind the poverty, both those who cause, sustain or result from poverty, and to empower the participants to make a real change when they return home.

To start the week of the training the language used, when talking about poverty and the factors making poverty invisible were discussed. The poverty is somewhere else, the poverty is someone else, the poverty is ashamed, therefore it is invisible! Building on this notion participants together tried to discover, who are the persons in poverty in their contexts, as well as to establish a psychological profile of the people living in poverty and social exclusion, based on concrete examples, facts and case studies. This was highlighted later in the week by a simulation game “What I was poor?”, which left participants confused and insecure, but understanding better the struggles of the people in poverty and social exclusion.

A guest speaker form Eurodiaconia, Ms. Theresa Schlage, presented a very enriching input regarding definitions and different interpretations of poverty, as well as the facts and figures on poverty and social exclusion in Europe and globally. She challenged the participants to discover the roots of poverty and presented possible approaches to address poverty in Europe.

Rev. Daniel Mueller-Thor from Germany, presented the different theological concepts of poverty and wealth, such as St. Francis from Assisi, Liberation theology and theology of Prosperity. He also invited participants to adopt several principles, which may help to addressing poverty, such as attitudes of contentment and gratitude, solidarity, personal engagement and care for community. The theological aspect of the training course was complemented by the Bible study, looking into what different texts in Old and New Testaments say about poverty and wealth, as well as defining our motivation and inspiration from those texts.

During the practical part of the training course, the participants had the opportunity to share the projects where they are already involved, which revealed a great variety of interesting an exciting project, e.g. student canteen food sharing project in Romania, a programme for children living in social exclusion in Estonia or paper recycling fund-raiser in Lebanon.

Photo Eva Ungvari

Photo Eva Ungvari

In addition, the participants could take part in two workshops each, offering skills in very practical approaches, i.e. project planning and awareness raising materials – postcards, as well as in more political instruments – advocacy and fundraising. There were many creative outcomes from the workshops, such as community funding video to support the travel costs of the Nigerian participant and many wonderful ideas for campaign postcards. In addition, the participants together prepared a street action in Sofia, which served to raise awareness about issues of poverty in Bulgaria and Europe.

During their time in Sofia, participants also had the opportunity to meet Dimitar Radev from Bulgarian Orthodox Church, working with children in social exclusion, and Evgeni Mitev from Bread Houses Network. Thy shared their experience regarding situation in Bulgaria and presented the projects they are involved in.

The training course was concluded by each of the participants and team members, presenting a conclusion about poverty. The one summarising the discussions throughout the week might be coming from the member of the Campaign Coordination Team of EYCE’s campaign “Break the Chains!” Maxim: “Poverty is people. PEOPLE are solution too.”

An International Planning Committee consisting of volunteers from EYCE‘s network, prepared, implemented and developed the programme and methodology of the training course, and accompanied participants in their reflections and maintained friendly, tolerant and open-minded atmosphere during the training course. EYCE wants to WARMLY THANK all the volunteers once again, and especially the local hosts and friends – Slavi Spasov, Romina Nikolova and Ivan!