The mission of the Petits Frères des Pauvres International Federation members, throughout the world, beyond fighting against the isolation and precariousness of the elderly, is to share the testimonies of those served. Older people, through their personal history, experiences and knowledge, often allow us to have a different perspective on social facts. It is also important to heed the words of our elders so that we do not forget them. At the moment, this is especially true in the United States, where older people have much to say about the struggle to uphold the civil rights of African-Americans and the civil unrest that has followed the murder of George Floyd. The Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) in Chicago decided to give a voice to the elderly they serve, who have lived and sometimes helped to build the civil rights movement in their youth. Their words testify to their fears and anxieties in the face of violence but also their hopes in the young, their resistance. Director Simone Mitchell-Peterson says, “In our association, we have the privilege of learning about life from those who have lived it. Bearing witness to our elders’ lives, memories, and experiences validates our mission daily. When I’m troubled, I know I can always turn to our elders. My recent conversation with one of our elders who is a 102-year-old Black woman brought me a steadying, calming perspective that seemed impossible to find anywhere else.”
Just because we are old, isolated, poor and frail does not mean that our words no longer count. That is why the Petits Frères des Pauvres organizations help the elderly to become an integral part of the societies in which they live.