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Francis meets rescued street children in surprise visit

Pope Francis hugs a former street child in Manila (www.anak-tnk.org)

Pope Francis has made a surprise visit to a foundation for rescued street children in Manila.

He visited the ANAK-Tnk Foundation after celebrating Mass in Manila Cathedral.

He spent about half an hour greeting an estimated 300 children.

Foundation director Fr Matthieu Dauchez told the Holy Father: “Those children, the poorest among the poor, are for sure the most vulnerable victims of our society. But they remain masters of joy, as one can see on their smiling faces.”

Alvin, a 10-year-old boy, said: “This is awesome… He gave me such a huge, warm hug.”

Last September, the Foundation launched a campaign called Even Us?, sending the Pope thousands of letters asking him to visit the children.

The ANAK-Tnk Foundation was founded in Manila in 1998. It has helped tens of thousands of children to leave the streets in the past 16 years.

On Sunday, two children from the Foundation will speak before the Pope at a youth meeting.