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Pope insists poverty isn’t inevitable

The Associated Press

Pope Francis, left, is greeted by Father Pedro Opeka, founder of the City of Friendship community, on the occasion of his visit in Akamasoa, Madagascar, on Sunday.

The Associated Press ANTANANARIVO (AP) — Pope Francis insisted Sunday that poverty isn’t inevitable and that the poor deserve the dignity of work as he visited a rock quarry in Madagascar where hundreds of people toil rather than scavenge in the capital’s biggest dump.

Francis appealed for new development strategies to fight global poverty as he visited the Akamasoa project, or City of Friendship, which soars on a hillside above the dump in Antananarivo. The project is the brainchild of an Argentine priest who was so overwhelmed by the abject poverty of Madagascar that he set about creating ways for the poor to earn a living.

Over 30 years, the Akamasoa quarry has produced the stones that built the homes, roads, schools and health clinics that now dot the pine-covered hillside.

Villagers, students and quarry workers lined the neat streets and pastel-painted doorways to greet the pope as he arrived, and thousands of children sang their hearts out for him in the village auditorium. The pope was clearly overwhelmed by their enthusiasm, particularly when a girl named Fanny told him in French that his visit would encourage the students to work and pray harder.Speech

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