Those Excluded from the Feast – Poverty in Luxembourg
Leading country in the world for GDP per capita, Luxembourg has the reputation of being a rich country and in the imagination of Europeans, we live there in opulence and ease. Its teachers are the best paid in the world, far ahead of the Swiss. And the median wealth of Luxembourgers crushes the ranking of Europeans with 440,000 euros, or four times more than that of the French. Luxembourg is therefore a little paradise, an oasis of well-being and wealth shared around the world.
Is it out of a taste for paradox that the photographer Raymond Reuter and the writer Claude Frisoni have devoted, with the logistical and financial support of the Chambre des Salariés du Luxembourg, a book and an exhibition to poverty in the Grand Duchy? Even if this country is rather considered as a kind of El Dorado…
The El Dorado of the Medusa?
Because behind these impressive statistics lies a completely different reality, made of exclusion and precariousness, daily difficulties and even misery.
By the Statistics Service’s own admission, “inequalities have been widening and increasing constantly since 2017” in the Grand Duchy. And the crisis born from the covid-19 pandemic is not likely to help the situation.
Statec estimates that 18.7% of the population is at “risk of poverty” in the Grand Duchy, compared to 16.5% in 2016.
A rate which according to the European definition rises to 21.5% of the population
To these worrying figures, it is also necessary to add the excluded, undocumented, those rejected from the right to asylum, refugees awaiting status, homeless, victims of addiction or life accidents, who often escape the statistical observations.
Shadow workers, “social garbage collectors”
Often faced with emergencies, condemned to essential interventions, to sometimes short-term measures, social workers fight with courage. Professionals or volunteers, they act in a whole host of associations, institutions or NGOs specialized and active in the field.
Their social usefulness, to help some but also to preserve the tranquility of others, arouses little recognition.
It is out of sight that the poor suffer, it is out of sight that we must help them.
It happens that citizens call one or other of the NGOs to report a homeless person who is spoiling the landscape or disturbing the peace and quiet of local residents. So, like social garbage collectors, emergency social assistance actors intervene, discreetly and effectively.
Because in addition to their own difficulties, these poor populations are also victims of humiliating invisibility.
Dignity and visibility
Both to raise awareness among the population and the authorities about these unbearable realities and to give visibility and dignity to people who are victims of poverty, Claude Frisoni and Raymond Reuter have produced a book and an exhibition, entitled “Les Exclus du festin”, poverty at the table. Luxembourg.
They met associations, streetworkers, social dialogue actors but also victims, those in care, beneficiaries of social action…
Respecting their dignity, they tried to tell their stories, their struggles, their hopes.
With an approach that is both documentary and literary, they have strived to give a face to a reality that is too little known.
They also endeavored to share a feeling of humanity and respect towards these people who are victims of injustice or misfortune.
With the help and advice of social actors, the two authors sought to understand and hear.
By giving visibility to the unfortunate heroes of these stories, they wish to help establish respect and work to defend their dignity.