Book underscores Pontiff's concern

"Me, No Christmas" appears as Pope Francis addresses young people at Manila's Catholic university, coming close to tears when he heard two rescued street children speak of their lives on the street. The eBook, by veteran journalist Paul Campbell, centers on a street kid in the Philippines.

A focus on the desperate plight of street children in Asia has graphically emerged in a recently-released fact-based novel, just as Pope Francis has focused his own attention on the poor and disadvantaged on his visit to Philippines.

Me, no Christmas, written by veteran investigative journalist Paul Campbell, is centred on a street kid in the Philippines, against the background of the people's revolution that ousted the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship almost four decades ago.

”But the plight of the kids I met then has not changed one whit, despite the so-called progress of mankind since,” Mr Campbell said.

The book has appeared just as Francis addressed young people at Manila's Catholic university, coming close to tears himself when he heard two rescued street children speak of their lives growing up poor and abandoned.

Speaking off the cuff to respond to four young people who spoke of their lives, the Pontiff listened to poignant testimony from little Glyzelle Palomar, aged 12, who wept as she asked Francis why children suffer so much

“This has come to world-wide attention yet again,” Mr Campbell said.

“The United Nations, in a 2012 report, pointed out these children are vulnerable to dangers ranging from violence and exploitation to the injuries, illnesses and death that result from living in crowded settlements atop hazardous rubbish dumps or alongside railroad tracks.”

“Something has changed though,” said Mr Campbell. “Society's acceptance of responsibility has got a whole lot worse, to a criminal level.”

The core character in Me, no Christmas is an infant who was found abandoned on a Manila street.

“I met a slum child begging on the roadside one Christmas day in the early 1980's. In the years since I have seen that encounter repeated in one form or another, across Asia and indeed the world. So I began researching, and result is a fictional but fact-based account of where that child came from, and where he probably went.

“In a nutshell, societal neglect reaped destruction back then. But sadly, in the intervening years, the only change has been the increase in the numbers now dispossessed, and the extent of 'payback'.

"Today's news headlines suggest that, with this horrific neglect, we are reaping a whirlwind as a result.”

Me, no Christmas has been released as an eBook on Amazon and iBooks by publisher Oxford eBooks. Contact Andy Severn at Oxford eBooks for information about the book and for review copies.

ePUB ISBN 978-1-908387-97-4

KIndle ISBN 978-1-908387-98-1

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