World Day of the Poor

For World Day of the Poor Ian Dunn from the SCIAF team reflects on a recent meeting with two inspirational teenagers.

This Sunday is World Day of the Poor and the Pope has urged us to 'Stretch forth your hand to the poor'.

Put that like that it sounds simple but, in reality, how many of us do it? Through my work with SCIAF, I was recently fortunate enough to speak to two inspirational young people, Arun and Rabina.

They're a pair of Indian teenagers who live near the border with Nepal and were recently nominees for the International Children's Peace prize for their work to combat human trafficking.

SCIAF is working through local partners to help rescue children from child labour and child marriage in India, where both serve as significant risks.


Rabina, 14, (above) became involved in an anti-human trafficking programme through her school. She has since stopped two child marriages, helped children in her community attend school and organised an awareness rally on the consequences of child marriage.

"A child, whether rich or poor, has the right to dream, to grow with their talents, to go to school and become successful in life," she told me. "We should always be ready to raise our voice against any injustice happening against children. In India or Scotland, we should never accept children being mistreated."


That courage, to take action and call on others to do the same was truly inspiring.
The message from Arun, 15, (above) was equally powerful. He told me that in his village child labour is a major concern so he started awareness campaigns amongst parents to stop sending children to work instead of school, that led to five children no longer trapped in child labour and returning to school.

"I have done this small thing in my community, what small thing to improve the lives of children in your communities can you do?" he asked me.
To be honest, I was embarrassed. This child's efforts to help others dwarfed my own. Arun and Rabina come from communities we would call poor but they are rich in courage.

To return to Pope Francis, "Poverty always appears in a variety of guises, and calls for attention to each particular situation. In all of these, we have an opportunity to encounter the Lord Jesus, who has revealed himself as present in the least of his brothers and sisters - The word of God allows for no complacency; it constantly impels us to acts of love.

This Sunday how will you stretch out your hand to the poor?

You can watch a recent SCIAF event with Arun and Rabina here.