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Bereaved Argentine mother opens free soup kitchen for poor kids

Xinhua, March 3, 2017 Adjust font size:

Argentine mother Yesica Gisele Villavicencio lost her four-year-old son in February 2016 to progeria, a rare condition that speeds up the aging process.

When she was mourning her son, she found a novel way to channel her grief.

In memory of her son, Franco, the mother has opened a makeshift soup kitchen near her home to attend the children of poor or homeless families.

"I don't want to cry for you or become sad. I just want to look up at the sky and say that I miss you. In your memory, we are going to open a soup kitchen named after you," Villavicencio said at the opening.

The soup kitchen called Franquito My Angel is located in a poor neighborhood of dirty streets and dilapidated houses in Moreno, a town some 50 km west of Buenos Aires.

Franquito is one of the numerous soup kitchens popping up across Argentina in solidarity with the country's poor. Decked with photos of Franco, the kitchen offers a meal twice a week to more than 30 children.

In Moreno alone, the number of kitchens to serve children from families experiencing economic difficulties increased from 45 in December 2015 to 90 in June 2016, according to the local government.

Nationwide, official data show that a third of Argentines live in poverty, and at least 12 million out of the total population of some 40 million people reside in shantytowns with no basic services, such as running water or electricity.

"My main concern and priority is to reduce poverty. As I have said more than once, I want my presidency to be judged on how we can move toward this goal," Argentine President Mauricio Marci told Congress on Wednesday.

"I was handed a country where one of three Argentines lives in poverty or extreme poverty. It is a real figure, and it is much more than a number. They are people who -- as we sit in this hall -- expect concrete solutions," said Macri.

The plight of the poor in Argentina has inspired people like Villavicencio to take action, with the help of their families and friends.