French char­ity of­fers Eif­fel fun to im­pov­er­ished kids

The China Post - - FEATURE - BY MAGGY DON­ALD­SON

Paris takes in bil­lions of eu­ros each year from tourists, but the in­ter­na­tional va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion wel­comed thou­sands of spe­cial visi­tors Wed­nes­day with a spirit of giv­ing.

The French char­ity Se­cours Pop­u­laire brought chil­dren from dozens of dif­fer­ent coun­tries — in­clud­ing those liv­ing through war, poverty or nat­u­ral dis­as­ters — to join kids from France for a day of sum­mer fun, al­low­ing even those with lim­ited means to take a va­ca­tion at the height of the French hol­i­day sea­son.

Thou­sands of chil­dren fanned out around Paris for a trea­sure hunt, while oth­ers played in the shadow of the Eif­fel Tower or took boat tours on the Seine. They ar­rived in Paris on Wed­nes­day af­ter spend­ing sev­eral weeks at sum­mer camps scat­tered through­out France. Both the Paris event and the camps were paid for by the char­ity.

The as­so­ci­a­tion’s head of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion Corinne Makowski said the event aims to help some tem­po­rar­ily es­cape in­jus­tices and trou­bles that make tak­ing hol­i­day time off im­pos­si­ble.

Am­rla Shoufi at­tended the event with a del­e­ga­tion from civil war-torn Syria, his last full day in France be­fore he re­turns to his home city Sweida near the Jor­da­nian bor­der. The 17-year-old said the ten days of paint­ing, climb­ing, swimming and sight­see­ing were a welcome re­lief from the dan­gers of his home coun­try. “It’s great to have a chance to get peace when you are at war,” he said.

Ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 French adult vol­un­teers helped fa­cil­i­tate the event.

Next to a con­cert stage, 10-year-old Chris De­laroux from the eastern French city Metz painted a mul­ti­color model of the Eif­fel Tower, draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion as he sat in front of the iconic Paris mon­u­ment. The event capped his two weeks at a camp where he said he played and cre­ated mem­o­ries with chil­dren from all over the world, and learned to em­brace sim­i­lar­i­ties rather than fo­cus on dif­fer­ences.

“We are all the same,” he said.

AP

Mo­hamed from Al­ge­ria paints a mul­ti­col­ored model of the Eif­fel Tower dur­ing the Va­ca­tion for Ev­ery­one day event in Paris, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 19.

AP

(Left) Chil­dren sign their names and draw on a gi­ant board dur­ing the Va­ca­tion for Ev­ery­one day event at the Eif­fel Tower in Paris, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 19. (Right) Chil­dren wave dur­ing the Va­ca­tion for Ev­ery­one day event in Paris, Wed­nes­day.

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