One of the most awaited moments during the Pope's visit to the Sacred Heart parish in Rome was his meeting with refugees. Among them was this young woman who fled her country six years ago, at the age of 17.
"When I arrived, it wasn't very easy. After a year, I found a friend that told me about this great church. In fact, it's not a church anymore, it's a family home. Here, I learned to believe more in people and to move forward bit by bit.”
Sharon fled her native Cameroon and now finds herself in Italy with her daughter. Both are trying to restart the lives. But, this actually wasn't the first time they've met the Pope. Her daughter greeted him last year, when he visited a center for refugees in Rome.
"The Pope's face was, how should I say? He was also excited, because he saw this tiny African girl with braids and with traditional African attire. So for me, it was even more exciting, thinking 'Oh God! It's the Pope!”
Sharon thanks the people who work at the Sacred Heart parish for their help. She is Catholic, and says her faith is stronger after seeing how her parish helps out people, Christian or Muslim, without any distinction. The parish even draws in young people from the area to volunteer. This architecture student is one of them.
"They come here from Africa, South America, Asia, countries going through tough times. And it's great to make yourself available to them, even with a smile. With simple gestures, without having to be a superhero.”
The volunteers and the religious members that manage at the parish say the Pope's visit is the best way to recognize their hard work. It also gives them the motivation to keep moving forward.