Hastings pupils showed “great empathy” when they learned about the lives of refugees.
The children, from Sacred Heart Primary School, attended a special assembly by Anne Barry, of CAFOD - the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales - where they were encouraged to explore the meaning of ‘welcoming a stranger’.
Anne also taught them about the Lampedusa Cross, made from the wreckage of refugee boats.
The cross was first made by Italian carpenter Francesco Tuccio after he met survivors from a refugee boat which capsized off the coast of the Italian island Lampedusa, killing over 300 people.
Moved by the loss of life, he made a cross from the wreckage of the boat and offered it to the survivors of the disaster as a sign of hope.
Pope Francis carried such a cross at a memorial service for those who had died, and each Catholic cathedral in England and Wales has been gifted a cross.
Anne said: “The children were totally engaged and had great empathy with the plight of the refugee children – children who are so like themselves, with similar hopes, dreams and ambitions.
“We were fortunate to be able to bring along a Lampedusa Cross and all present appreciated the story.”
Martin Brown, CAFOD’s representative in Hastings, said: “Many of us feel the same sentiment that the carpenter Francesco Tuccio has spoken of, that feeling of ‘what can I do to make a difference?’
“The compassion shown by the pupils of Sacred Heart for those suffering is extraordinary. This is a very real way of showing solidarity and letting those who have been forced from their homes know that we do care.”
A spokesman for CAFOD said the agency was working with partner organisations in Europe and beyond to provide practical help to those fleeing their homes. In addition, it was calling on the UK government to take a “fair and proportionate” share of refugees – from both within and outside the European Union – and pushing for the establishment of safe and legal routes to enable refugees to reach safety.
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