09/24/2014, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Manila’s street children write to Pope Francis: "Come to see us!"

With the help of Card Tagle, former street children - now being helped by an NGO - have sent a thousand letters to Francis. The goal is to get a meeting with the Pope during his apostolic visit in January. A video shows the children as they write the letters to the Pope and talk about their past.

Manila (AsiaNews) - With the help of Card. Luis Antonio Tagle, a group of former street children from Metro Manila have written a thousand letters, in the hope of securing an audience with Pope Francis, during his apostolic journey to the Philippines next year. An ambitious and unprecedented initiative promoted four months ahead of the Argentine Pontiff's arrival in the Asian country, scheduled for January 15 to 19. The Archbishop of the capital wanted to join the project, devoting most of his time with the young people, who have been saved from the streets and are now under the protection of the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation (TNK Foundation).

According to reports from the Archdiocese of Manila, Cardinal Tagle (pictured with some children) will deliver over a thousand letters to Pope Farncis written by the children of TNK, an NGO whose mission is to save children from a streets life of vagrancy, drugs, prostitution and begging in Metro Manila. The spokesperson for the foundation Alexandra Chapeleau explains that children "have decided to write to him," because they would love for the Pope to "visit them" and "are looking forward to his response with great hope".

On September 21, Card Tagle left the Philippines and arrived in Rome, where next month the Synod on the Family is scheduled. He will carry the children's message to the Pope, and they have already spread news of their initiative online via the hashtag #EvenUs, which has been retweeted by the French "sister" NGO Anak.

"We want the video made by the children to be seen by as many people as possible and, above all, by the Pope himself," remarked Thierry d'Arcangues, social media manager of Anak. He also urged the public to help the children realize their dream of a meeting with the Pope, sharing and re-tweeting the video. It contains images of the  children writing their letters to the Pope and passages in which they describe the life lived in the street.

During his apostolic journey to the Philippines, Francis will visit areas affected by the typhoon Yolanda in November last year. However, the final schedule for the Papal visit is still being finalized. This is why members of the organizing committee have travelled to Rome with Card. Tagle. In recent days, the Archbishop of Manila posted on the Bishops' Conference website (CBCP), that Francis' visit will focus "on Mercy and Compassion" and allow everyone to experience the "grace" of the Christian message.

 

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