MANILA, Philippines – From advice on overcoming difficulties to urging children to share their gifts to the world, Pope Francis reached out to children with disabilities and special needs in a virtual online meeting on Thursday, February 5.
Children from Brazil, India, Spain, and the US shared their dreams and hobbies with the Pope via Google Hangout, which was held in partnership with independent organization Scholas Occurentes.
During the candid 30-minute conversation, the children told Francis how technology was helping them learn in school and pursue their interests.
They also asked questions and sought advice from the Argentine pontiff.
Isaiah, a junior high school student from Nebraska, told the Pope how he was using technology to help him keep up with his schoolwork. Isaiah is suffering from a lack of fine motor skills that affect his ability to write.
He asked the Pope: What do you do when you face something difficult?
Francis replied, “Do not get upset. Remain calm, and afterwards find a way to overcome it.”
“If I can’t overcome it then I have to resist it. Until the possibility comes up that I can overcome it, there’s no need to be afraid of difficulties.”
He added: “We are capable of overcoming everything. All we need is time to understand them, intelligence to find a way and courage to continue forward. But never be afraid.”
The Pope also said that the children should not be afraid to communicate with each other and share their talents and treasures to the world.
Manoj Kumar, a hearing-impaired student from India, asked Francis how Scholas could help children like him connect with other students from around the globe.
The Pope replied, “Build bridges with you all…When we don’t communicate, we stay alone with our limitations and that’s bad for us.”
“Give and receive. That does us well, and we’re never alone,” he added.
In his parting message, he also advised them to find and share their ‘treasure.’
“Inside all of us is a treasure. When we share it with others, the treasure multiplies itself,” he said.
“Don’t hide the treasure that all of you have. Sometimes you find it right away. Sometimes [it’s] like a game and [you] find the treasure. Sometimes it’s not easily found. By sharing you receive from others and it multiplies,” Francis added.
During the conversation, the children showed off their gadgets and told the Pope how they were using technology to play video games, learn new things on the Internet, take photos, and record video.
Manoj told the Pope how he didn’t know about computers until about 3 years ago. Now, he uses it to help him understand his schoolwork better. “It’s like having another teacher,” he said.
14-year-old Bauti from Buenos Aires showed off how he uses his tablet to draw and play games, while 12-year-old Elvira and 16-year-old Alicia related how they liked to take photos and make videos.
But compared to the technology-savvy children, the Pope admitted that he wasn’t as adept at navigating the wired world.
When Alicia asked Francis if he liked to take pictures and upload them online, the Pope laughed and replied: “Do you want me to tell you the truth? I’m a dinosaur. I don’t know how to work a computer. What a pity, what a shame!”
This was the Pope’s second live Google Hangout. His first was in September, where he talked with other students from around the world. – Rappler.com