New handbook helps charities in fight against extreme poverty

VATICAN CITY — A new handbook for charity organizations assisting people living in extreme poverty aims to help aid workers better understand how to confront the issue from a human rights perspective.

“Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty” was developed by a coalition of NGOs and guided by Franciscans International and ATD Fourth World, a human rights, anti-poverty organization based in England. According to the handbook’s introduction, it hopes to ensure that the problems associated with extreme poverty are addressed in a “way that fully respects their rights and dignity.”

The cover to "Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty" a handbook for charity organizations assisting people living in extreme poverty.

The cover to “Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty” a handbook for charity organizations assisting people living in extreme poverty.

The handbook, which was presented at a Vatican news conference Dec. 17, translates the legal language of the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights into language most aid workers can more readily understand. Michel Roy, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, told journalists that the handbook’s release is timely during the Year of Mercy and follows the guiding principles of serving, accompanying and defending.

“Mercy cannot be considered as a weak approach as opposed to rights,” he said. “Both are related. Rights without love would be very dry, not contributing to building humanity in all its dimensions. Love without justice would be airy, moony, goodhearted for sure, but not transformative to the necessary point.”

Roy also said the handbook serves as a concrete tool in facing the challenges of fighting extreme poverty on local, national and global levels.

U.S. Franciscan Father Michael Perry, minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, told journalists the handbook’s use in the field of charity and relief helps to “ensure full respect for the inherent rights and dignity of all” in the hopes that “extreme poverty might be wiped from the face of the earth.”

The manual, which is already available in English and French, will have a Spanish version published in January and will also be available in Portuguese and German. A special black-and-white format will also be available for printing by local press companies in developing countries.

The “Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty” handbook can be accessed at this link.