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STREET CHILDREN ARE CALLING FOR OUR HELP

 

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Children who suffer: a Marist focus of attention

27/09/2004: General House

The topic is about trying to experience a happy childhood. You only have to open your eyes to see how many children live in difficult situations. In the poll: For which group of children should the Marist Brothers provide the greatest care and attention? four pressing realities were identified: street children, victims of child labour and sexual abuse, child soldiers and children suffering from AIDS. Other possible problem areas, equally as real, exist, such as children dying of hunger.

In 66.4% of the 268 responses, priority was given to helping street children, followed by 21.60% for victims of child labour and sexual abuse. Only 1.90% gave priority to child soldiers while 10.10% saw the most needy group as being children suffering from AIDS. How can this data be explained?

Among the four groups stated, the plight of street children is well known and easily identified. There are many ways in which street children can be helped and there is substantial social awareness and sensitivity to this problem. The brothers and laypeople have responded to this problem in various ways and in different countries there are Marist organisations already working with street children. The three other groups of children arise from more specific and problematic situations for which favourable interventions are more difficult to implement.

The children who find themselves in these situations, in the majority of cases, do not have access to any schooling. The charism of Champagnat opens our eyes to these situations and invites us to find daring, creative ways of being present to these children. There are children who hold a gun before they hold a pen. Other children carry deeply painful wounds due to the sexual abuse they have suffered, the way in which they have been exploited as child workers and the suffering they experience as victims of AIDS. The difficulty in finding ways to help these children does not justify a lack of response.

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