PUMPKINS carved with hearts lined the steps of Christ Church, Spitalfields, in London, on the Saturday before last, the eve of All Saints, as the charity World Vision sought to bring a message of hope to children caught up in conflicts.
A service at Christ Church was dedicated to praying for refugees and making a commitment to practical action. It was the culmination of a week-long campaign “Carve a heart”, in which people had been urged to carve a heart in a pumpkin, and donate £5 by text.
Among the stories told were those of a Syrian mother in Lebanon, Amira, who, unable to provide for her family, had married off her 12-year-old daughter; and a Syrian teenager, Asma, who dreams of becoming a doctor. In a film projected on a screen in the church, four Iraqi children, gathered around a campfire and attempting to reach Germany through the Balkans, told their stories.
The media-relations manager at World Vision, Chris Weeks, warned that children in Lebanon, a country now hosting more than a million refugees, were suffering from malnutrition. Last year, some refugee children died after heavy snow caused their tents to collapse.
A lack of funding means that the food aid provided for each family from the World Food Programme is now £8.50 a month.
As other children headed out for a night of Hallowe’en “fun” fear, millions of children were “living in real fear every night of the year”, the CEO of World Vision, Tim Pilkington, said. “We hope the tour encourages the UK to take a moment to think about those . . . suffering in deprived countries.”