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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Julie Etchingham launches CAFOD ethical Christmas gifts after meeting Syrian child refugees

ITV News at Ten presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham has launched CAFOD’s ethical Christmas gift appeal after meeting Syrian child refugees.

On a three-day visit to Lebanon, CAFOD ambassador Ms Etchingham – who was reporting for ITV News at Ten – met children who had no choice but to work all day for a pittance in order to support their families.

She also met youngsters CAFOD’s partner Caritas Lebanon has helped get into school – some for the first time in their lives – and saw the difference it has made.

Ms Etchingham said: “CAFOD took me to a school in Qartaba, in the mountains of Lebanon, where most of the pupils are Syrian refugees. They had made extraordinary journeys to get there so to be able to see them in a classroom was absolutely miraculous – it is the best start these children could have.

“You could help support the work of CAFOD and its Caritas partners around the world by supporting World Gifts this Christmas. Just head to the CAFOD website and buy something like a school starter pack, for example. The money can help children – like those I met in Lebanon – to have that best start in life; in the classroom, getting on with their learning.”

Ms Etchingham met Hussein, 11, Mostafa, 10 and Amar, 6, who have been in Lebanon for four years and have just started going to school for the first time thanks to support from Caritas.

They are now attending a school run by Sisters in Qartaba where the number of pupils has swelled from 60 before the Syrian conflict, to 290 today.

Caritas are paying for pupils’ uniforms, school bags, stationery, their transport to school and are making sure they get places in school in the first instance, so they can start the vital process of learning.

Ms Etchingham added: “There are a host of ways that you can buy gifts for your family to support families like these. So please help and please give whatever you can.”

CAFOD World Gifts for 2018 include:

• Fabulous Football £10
In poor urban areas, football can provide a positive alternative to drugs and crime. This charity gift buys kits, footballs and training and can help to build a sense of community and hope for the future.

• School Starter Pack £25
This brilliant charity gift includes a uniform, stationery and a school bag; everyday items that will give a child the gifts of education and opportunity.

• Help a Child Refugee £46
Give much-needed emotional and educational support to children who have fled the violent trauma of war. This charity gift will help the most vulnerable refugees to come to terms with what they’ve experienced, make friends and build a brighter future.

To order a CAFOD world gift call 0808 14 000 14 or online

Order before midnight on 14th December for free delivery in time for Christmas.

Picture: Julie Etchingham meets children in Lebanon. (CAFOD).