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Pope Francis to meet with Panamanian children who are socially vulnerable
During World Youth Day, San José de Malambo Orphanage will have a unique moment, which will undoubtedly remain recorded in the history of this institution. On Sunday, January 27th, Sister Lourdes and 9 children will greet Pope Francis during an emotional gathering.
San José de Malambo Orphanage was founded 47 years ago in Panama, and it currently shelters 153 children in conditions of social vulnerability. The orphanage is directed by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Sister Lourdes is the founder of this orphanage which helps young people to leave their precarious conditions through Catholic values, academic formation, and the love that is given to every child that joins this family.
In this orphanage, there are children who have been victims of different kinds of abuse, who have been abandoned, or who are carriers of HIV. Regardless, each one of them is treated with special care at this home.
There are children who are refugees and there have been children who come from Haiti, Ecuador, South Africa, Somalia, Tanzania, Angola, and Cameroon among other countries. The foundation has foreign missionaries, and at present, there are volunteers from Spain and the USA.
The awaited gathering will be held at the Casa Hogar El Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan Home). There, Pope Francis will receive a gift prepared by the children of San José de Malambo Orphanage, and even though the gift is a surprise, it is known that it will be a piece of art in which Panamanian and Catholic symbols will be the main elements. Also, a twelve-year-old girl from the orphanage will give some inspiring words for the Holy Father.
According to Sister Lourdes, Pope Francis knows the history of this orphanage because a Panamanian priest told him about the existence of this Catholic social, work which was founded more than 47 years ago.
Her legal name is Idia Reis Flores. She has been in consecrated life for 56 years, and she belongs to the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. She began her formation in Guatemala, was later sent to El Salvador, and in 1972 arrived to Malambo. She is 77 years old, was born on February 14, 1942, and speaks English and Spanish.
San José de Malambo Orphanage
Founded in 1947, it is a home for children who are socially vulnerable. Its mission is to form minors with strong values in the Catholic faith and to offer them the possibility to learn a trade as well as provide education at all levels.
The orphanage has 138 children from 8 months to 18 years old. To sustain itself, the institution has land designated for the cultivation of edible products which are sold. In addition, most of the children have a sponsor who has the responsibility to take care of them on special dates and give them family love.