Worshippers attend an overnight vigil on the eve of a Mass that will be celebrated by Pope Francis at the Soamandrakizay esplanade in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Francis is in Madagascar for the second leg of his weeklong trip to Africa.(AP Photo/Alexander Joe)

Pope presses need for dignity of work for Madagascar's poor

September 07, 2019 - 11:41 pm

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — Pope Francis is pressing for the poor to have the dignity of work with a visit to a hilltop rock quarry in Madagascar where hundreds of people toil for a pittance rather than scavenge in the Indian Ocean capital's biggest dump.

Francis celebrates an open-air Mass Sunday before visiting the Akamasoa village, 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 of Antananarivo.

Akamasoa's founder, the Rev. Pedro Opeka, says the low salaries are "an injustice," but they are enough to send children to school.