A humanistic step starting in 1946: the beginning of les petits frères des Pauvres in France
In 1939, and after a long intellectual and spiritual process, Armand Marquiset decided to dedicate his life to the poor. This project was carried out in 1946 with the creation in France of the association les petits frères des Pauvres (the little brothers of the Poor). He particularly committed himself to helping the most destitute elderly people and soon realized that the hardest thing to bear was loneliness and isolation. The work of the little brothers of the Poor still revolves today around these fundamental values of respect and brotherhood. Volunteers and staff offer a long term accompaniment to allow people to rebuild their lives, to weave relational networks and to be released from their isolation and all this whilst giving them the material support they need. The international dimension of the little brothers of the Poor is present in the very beginnings of the organization, when in 1948, it developed its programs in Casablanca. Over the years, the little brothers of the Poor’s network has developed throughout the world.
The International Federation
The International Federation of the little brothers of the Poor is a non profit international organisation established in ten countries with thousands of volunteers throughout the world. The International Federation was established in 1979 so as to promote the work of the little brothers of the Poor globally by helping member organizations to develop their programs, by encouraging and allowing communications between member countries and by helping in the development of new establishments in other countries of the world. The international network of the little brothers of the Poor was developed throughout the world thanks to the mobilization of volunteers who discovered the little brothers of the Poor’s work in countries other than theirs.
Creation in France
Creation in Casablanca (until the late 90’s)
Creation in the United States
Creation in Quebec
Creation in Ireland
Creation in Spain
Creation in Germany
Creation in Poland
Creation in Switzerland
Creation in Romania
Creation in Mexico
The International Federation is composed by 10 members and continues to develop partnerships to exchange about practices and amplify the fight against isolation of the elderly all over the world.
The International Federation of the Little Brothers of the Poor brings together associations and other not-for-profit organizations which, by virtue of their mission and the work they do, help combat loneliness and social isolation among the elderly and embrace the following principles:
Members’ work are guided by a set of core values:
- Every person is unique and irreplaceable
- Every person, no matter what their background or physical, mental or social status, deserves respect
- Every person’s choices, beliefs and values must be respected.
The mission of the members is to support the elders suffering from social isolation, particularly those living in precarious social circumstances. Members are committed to establishing authentic and lasting relationships among isolated elders and volunteers, over and above any material assistance volunteers or organization can provide.
- Make regular individual visits to each elder;
- Foster a dialogue that respects dignity, privacy, pace and freedom of choice;
- Support and help elders in every aspect of life, especially in cases where there is a lack of resources to enjoy a decent standard of living;
- Help the elder make connections with others and enjoy moments of happiness and togetherness.
Members ensure this level of support by developing specific initiatives, such as:
- trips and outings;
- holiday celebrations;
- group activities;
- material assistance;
- housing and other facilities; and more.
Given the long-term nature of Members’ commitment to the elders they serve, it must always be carried out by volunteers.Members must not be bound by conditions imposed by a religious, political or ethnic affiliation.Members must allow active volunteers the opportunity to debate issues, speak their mind and take part in the decision-making process.In an effort to foster collective action, members must develop initiatives aimed at citizen mobilization, education and support for volunteers and staff members alike. Members must work hand in hand with any family members or elders’ friends and serve in a complementary capacity to professional and institutional partners.
Members pledge to raise awareness about the various situations they encounter. They strive to draw public attention to the conditions and realities facing the elders they serve, bringing both their hardships and hopes to light.
Albert Quiles Martínez
The two main goals of the International Federation of the little brothers of the Poor are:
- Networking the members of the International Federation to promote the exchange of skills;
- Support the programs and the development of the members.
Whenever it's possible, the International Federation includes the partner associations of its members to its work.
- Thematic seminars
Volunteering, support for the elderly, loneliness, isolation, housing development, commitment, fundraising ... these are examples of themes that the members of the International Federation discusses at thematic seminars organized annually.
- Continental groups
Because each continent has its own specific needs, character, the members of the International Federation meet in continental groups once or twice a year. For example, working with the Mexican association, Amigos de los Adultos Mayores has allowed the American association Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly to better understand the accompaniment of single elderly people of Mexican origin. At the European level, the international network wants to contribute to raising conscientious awareness of the effect that the phenomenon of isolation produces. This phenomenon affects all countries. It is the goal to influence policies on this subject.
- International conferences
Every three years, the International Federation organizes, for its members and their partners, an international congress that brings together about 150 volunteers and employees. These conferences provide, at the same time, opportunities for exchange and meetings, but especially moments of prospective.
- October 1st, World Seniors Day
The International Federation wants October 1st to be an opportunity for communication and advocacy for all its members. This day is a unique opportunity to denounce the situation of isolated elderly people in the world and to talk about the work of the International Federation members.