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December 17 2014 | İSTANBUL, TURKEY

In Istanbul, a visit to refugee children from Siria and Irak

 
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On the roads of Istanbul, in the recent months, at the traffic lights of the big boulevards, you can see dozens children of all ages: they chase and approach the cars, asking for money and food. Many of them are Syrians and Iraqis: part of the people of refugees - is said about two million - arrived in Turkey to escape the war and the destruction of their cities.
They live in makeshift shelters, often abandoned houses, and they need everything.
In the great school of the Salesian Fathers, thanks to the contribution of the Community of Sant'Egidio, about 300 of them recevided a welcome: they can study, receive food and clothes. Recently, English classes for parents are provided, to improve integration.
Almost all of them are Christians. Pope Francis, on his visit to Istanbul a few days ago, met some of them.
Today they have the happy faces, but when you ask them where they come from, you can perceive their dramatic stories: "I am of Erbil," "I come from Aleppo". Even the teachers are young refugees, and help us to talk to them.
On 16 December, in fact, the children received a visit from a group of Italian friends of the Community of Sant'Egidio. Some are familiar faces to children: Andrea Riccardi and fr.Marco Gnavi have already visited them a few months ago. It was since then that the community has started to help father Andrés in this hosting activity: initially by providing them with meals and then helping to improve school facilities.
The old floor of the courtyard, that's is ruined, will soon be replaced by a new one. The material has already been purchased and will be installed soon, to give the kids a place to play, exercise, living a "Children" as it should be, away from the horrors of the war in which they were witnesses.  


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