MUMBAI, India – Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario marked the 3rd World Day of the Poor in Dhaka with a special event for street children.

The event brought together 120 boys and girls from three care homes in different parts of Bangladesh.

“My heart overflowed with joy, being in the presence of these children, not a single one was Catholic,” D’Rozario told Crux.

“I had prepared a speech for the occasion, but seeing the children, I decided to ask them relevant questions on the theme: The hope of the poor shall not perish forever. Their responses were amazing. They understood very clearly what Pope Francis said about the World Day of the Poor. I then spoke with them and shared with them about the Holy Father’s message and this was for the children as well as the nearly 25 Caritas staff who had organized the program. Each one of us, including me, had a cap with ‘World Day of the Poor’ and the theme printed on it,” the cardinal explained.

The World Day of the Poor was instituted by Pope Francis after the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the first one took place in 2017. Events are organized to mark the occasion in dioceses around the world.

The children attending the event were no longer living with their families, either due to being orphaned or abandoned, and earn their living by picking through the garbage in the street.  Most used to sleep on the street, but recently have been provided facilities in which to reside.

During their dialogue with the cardinal, the children spoke of their fears about living on the street, and their gratitude for the help they had received.

“God loves us. He loves us through those who have sheltered us, who take care of us, who have brought us together today, who are listening to us today, who are very close to us showing their love and affection,” one child told the prelate.

Another expressed his belief that “God the Almighty heard our cries and he is protecting us from all tortures, beatings, rejections, abuses that we have been receiving in the past while living in the street.”

When D’Rozario asked the children what they most wanted from the Church, he said they answered, “love, affection and care.”

The World Day of the Poor event – organized by Caritas Dhaka – lasted until the early afternoon and included lunch.

“I sat at table with the younger children and served them lunch and we all ate sitting together at table,” D’Rozario said.

“I also went around to the other different tables. The children were happy to share with me, the chocolates and oranges they received at the end of the meal; some were feeding me the oranges,” the cardinal said.

“I saw that they are prepared to make sacrifices for the others. I could not refuse their love. It was an outpouring of love and generosity aroused by the love they have received and experienced,” he said.

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