100 young volunteers

Summer gives time to young people not only to have a break but also to think of others. This summer about 100 young people joined the vounteering projects that are organised each year by the Jesuit youth network for students who wish to offer their service during the holiday months.

Four groups were organised by the University Chaplaincy - they went to Naples, Catania and Palermo while another group went to Ethiopia. They were accompanied by the University Chaplain Fr Michael Bugeja SJ as well as other lay leaders: Veronica Zammit, Martine Cauchi and Veronique Abela.

A fifth group went to Bari accompanied by Ms. Miriam Portelli.

At Paulo Freire Institute in Zejtun, young people mostly from St. Aloysius' College Sixth Form organised a summer school for the duration of the summer months for children in Zejtun. They were accompanied by Fr Vincent Magri SJ and other young leaders: Matthew Casha and Roberto and Josianne Calleja. 

Another two young volunteers joined the Jesuits in Italy for a week in their project to help out with the earthquake struck regions in Emilia Romagna.

Below you will find a written account of the voluntary work experience in Ethiopia, with the contribution of Sara Fenech, Saviour Bonnici, Audrey Schembri and Christabel Formosa:


Top row left to right: Saviour Bonnici, Fr. Michael Bugeja SJ, James Saydon, Maria Mallia, Charles Farrugia and Mark Scicluna
Bottom row: Maria Cassar, Audrey Kay Schembri, Christabelle Formosa, Sara Fenech, Ramona Privitelli

Our time in Ethiopia consisted of many different aspects but the place that we devoted the most of our time to, was at ‘The Missionaries of Charity’. This is a clinic run by the Sisters of Mother Theresa. The Sisters take in those in need of medical care as well as other basic needs. The patients who are taken in may come from anywhere, they may have come from the street, they may have come from their homes but they all receive the same loving care from the Sisters and their helpers.

As volunteers we would take a 20 minute walk to the hospital every morning. On arrival at the Missionaries of Charity, we would serve breakfast to the patients. This was incredibly hard for us to do as the breakfast served was not at all appetising; in fact it consisted of left over food from the airplane flights which arrived in Ethiopia. At this point we realised that we are truly serving the poorest of the poor. Having said this, the appreciation on the faces of each patient as they were served this food was incredible. The fact that they were given something to eat was more than enough, in their eyes. It made me realise how fortunate we are and how we should not take anything for granted. Some of the people in Ethiopia have nothing compared to us, but are happy. Yet we tend to have all the things our heart desires, yet we complain and remain unsatisfied. 

After serving breakfast, each one of us would do our daily duties. These were given to us by the Sisters and we were allocated to different wards and each having different jobs according to the need. Some were helping in the cleaning, others helped in the wound care of patients, others offered physiotherapy and others sang and danced for the patients. It’s amazing the good one can do even through these little things. The smiles on each and every one of the patients' faces, after giving them some of our time and caring for them, was truly a gift. 

After serving lunch to the patients and having a little rest ourselves we would then return once more to the Missionaries of Charity. In the afternoon we would continue with our duties and try and lighten the mood in the place. Many of the patients are severely sick and in some circumstances, simple hand contact can make the world of a difference. Also, a smile here and there can bring joy to a whole ward.

In my experience, I have learned to love those in need and learned to empathise with them. It has certainly given me a great understanding of what hard work truly entails. Having said this, even though it was hard at times and we faced many tough situations, I can look back on this experience with great happiness and satisfaction that I managed to help some of those most in need. As Mother Theresa used to say ‘We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.’


An important part of our mission in Ethiopia included our service at Kidane Mehret. Kidane Mehret consists of a school as well as an orphanage for children aged between a few months and fifteen years. Our task throughout our stay was to teach children aged between eight and fifteen Mathematics, Computer Studies and English. This included preparations of interactive lessons that kept the children focused and occupied. Whilst still in Malta, it was difficult to gauge the academic level of the children however after a few lessons it was clear that the children were very bright and eager to learn. Our lessons also included a number of games as we had to keep in mind that these children were enjoying summer holidays. 

Another aspect of Kidane Mehret was that of giving a helping hand in the orphanage by feeding the babies and playing with the toddlers whenever we found some time. Getting to know these children has been an essential part of our experience in Ethiopia. Being able to put a smile on these children’s faces by simply playing with them, letting them braid our hair and listening to whatever they had to share with us has been very fulfilling.

The joy of these children at Kidane Mehret has taught me how grateful and joyful we should be and not complain for any reason. Finally what these children have transmitted to us has been much more than what we have managed to give to them.


Community life was another important aspect in our experience. First of all it was a great source of comfort knowing that after a day’s work where we encountered difficult situations there were other members of the group ready to support us.  Also being in a group brought about the need to always think of others within our group as well as the persons we were serving in the hospital and orphanage.  We were united like a family during this month. 

Regarding chores, we were divided in pairs. Taking turns, every group prepared the meals for the whole group and also prepared prayers for that evening.  Being in a community gave us the opportunity to practice virtues such as understanding, patience and acceptance of others. We were lucky enough to be part of a wonderful group where we supported and helped each other day in day out. This gave us added strength to help those in need.

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