In viaggio per Roma: quattro bambini della scuola Helen Keller canteranno per il Papa per la Giornata Mondiale dei Bambini

On the way to Rome: four students from the Helen Keller school will sing for World Children’s Day

Fra Ibrahim Faltas is leading the group of families from Gaza, Bethlehem and Jerusalem present on 25 and 26 May in Rome

The four pupils from the Helen Keller school of Beit Hanina are flying to Rome: a special journey for Ibrahim, Alaa, Talin and Celin, which will take them to the Olympic Stadium, to sing together with Pope Francis on the first World Children’s Day.

“Dear children! Your first World Day, which will be in Rome on 25 and 26 May next, is approaching,” are the words that open the message from the Pope announcing this special day dedicated to children from all over the world. “This message is for each of you, dear children, because as the Bible teaches us and as Jesus showed us so often,  you “are precious” in God’s eyes.”

Thanks to the work and great effort of Fra Ibrahim Faltas, Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land and Director of the Terra Sancta schools, these youngsters will go to Rome with their four accompaniers, Fra Paulo Francisco Paulista deoputy head of the school, Manal Radi Omari and Fadi E. Ghattas, respectively director and deputy director of the Helen Keller Department and Lina Khalil Ya’qub Sileibi, a music teacher.

The message of peace from the Holy Land to Rome

“We are in the school named after Helen Keller,” Fra Ibrahim emphasized, “attended by about one hundred pupils with special needs,  especially with sight problems. The school was taken over in 2016 by the Custody, providing a truly invaluable service to the community,  through instruments and teaches who are competent in this type of disability.”

“These four teenagers, all thirteen years old,” he continues, “will be at the Olympic Stadium with the Pope on 25 May for the World Children’s Day, and on this occasion they will join the families from Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the children from Gaza who are receiving medical treatment in Italy. There will be about sixty of us, counting children and accompaniers..

A unique experience

For all of them, it is the first time that they have left the country. “I am very pleased because it will be a beautiful experience, it will also be the first time I take a plane,” says Celin excitedly. “And I will meet lots of other people and  above all I will sing for the Pope:  I discovered this passion as I sang… at home. My parents told me that I had a good voice and they encouraged me to continue. And now my voice will be a small gift for Pope Francis.”

In Rome, the group will sing together the hymn “Jerusalem capital of the Resurrection” in which words of hope, peace, dignity and freedom for this land ring out.

When asked, “What do you want to say to the Pope,” they all answer the same thing. “We want peace in our country,” Ibrahim repeats, “we don’t want the war any more. I would like to tell the Pope not to leave us alone, not to forget us because we need peace.”.

Ten years since the Pope’s visit to Bethlehem

“And there will be a very great coincidence on that day,” said fr. Ibrahim, “because we will be meeting the Pope on 25 May … and on exactly the same day 25 May 2014, the Pope visited Bethlehem for the first time. Ten years ago, the Pope was in the place where Jesus was born: this time it will be the children from the Holy Land making the visit. For the occasion, we will be giving the Pope a special gift, a plate in mother-of-pearl made by the children of Bethlehem.”

Silvia Giuliano