Catholic graduate meets Pope Francis at Vatican-UN event

A young Catholic has met Pope Francis after being selected to travel to a prestigious conference in Rome.

Eleanor Margetts, 24, travelled to the Vatican on Sunday 30 October to take part in a conference for young people looking at practical solutions to sustainable development. The Swansea Development and Human Rights graduate met with the Pope during the event.

Eleanor, from Bridgend, had previously visited development projects on her gap year as part of CAFOD's 'Step into the Gap' programme. It was through the Catholic aid agency that Eleanor was made aware of the conference and applied to attend.

The two-day event, jointly organised by the Holy See and the UN, brought together 50 young leaders from over 30 countries to think of solutions to the problems of human trafficking and child labour.

Ideas from the young leaders will feed into later UN discussions on the 'Sustainable Development Goals' - a set of unprecedented commitments made by nearly 200 countries to tackle global poverty by 2030.

Eleanor said: "Having the opportunity to meet Pope Francis was incredible. He was very interested to hear about the work that we were doing, and I was so humbled to have had the chance to shake his hand and be thanked by him. It is definitely an experience that I will never forget.

"International Development has been a major passion of mine since my volunteer year with CAFOD's 'Step into the Gap' programme. I have developed a huge interest in the relationship between development and human rights, especially since studying for my master's degree.

"I found out about the Vatican conference from CAFOD, and applied by sending in my proposal for a solution. My idea - which looked at integrating all of the Sustainable Development Goals more closely with climate change as a major cause of poverty - was accepted and I was invited to attend."

Eleanor continued: "Last year, I volunteered in the Philippines and witnessed how critical environmental rights are for all human rights. Climate change has impacted the country with more severe typhoons which threatens human rights ranging from the right to life to the right to own property. I was excited to share my passions with a large group of young people with similar interests.

"I learnt a lot while at the Vatican from hearing the opinions of people from all over the world about these issues. It was fantastic to hear from the many wonderful speakers and to experience my first international conference."

The Sustainable Development Goals are a group of 17 commitments ranging from the ending of global poverty to measures on health and decent work. CAFOD helped organisations in some of the world's poorest communities to contribute to the negotiation of the Goals which were agreed at the UN in 2015.

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