The Alfred Mizzi Foundation is supporting young people who take an active role in the welfare of their fellow countrymen. By encouraging them at this young age, it augurs well for those who go on to be part of the several non-governmental organisations this country has produced throughout the years.
Over 60 students from the University of Malta will be leaving for various countries this month to volunteer among the poor and marginalised. The five groups, made up of young people who answered an open call made by the Jesuit-run University Chaplaincy, will be serving in Palermo, Firenze, London, Romania, Ethiopia and Egypt for a number of weeks.
With a simple ‘send-off’ ceremony, University Chaplain Patrick Magro SJ wished them well and thanked them for offering their time and energy to those in need.
These annual voluntary work experiences organised by the Chaplaincy welcome any young adult willing to serve the poor, and the settings are various. Those going to Palermo, Firenze, Romania and London will work with children, in a set-up run by the Sisters of Charity or by the Jesuits working in the region (Romania). The group volunteering in Egypt will help to run a summer camp for about 200 children as well as what is referred to as a ‘garbage village’ where the inhabitants of all ages live in dire conditions and subsist on sorting mountains of refuse. Fr Anthony Fenech SJ, a Maltese Jesuit who has served in Egypt for many years, will coordinate their work there. The group going to Ethiopia will be looking after those who are sick and abandoned by society.
“Invariably every young person comes back changed,” said Fr Patrick. “These are experiences which mark a person for life. They have been generous in giving, and receive something even more valuable. Voluntary experiences among the poor, in a team, increases their sensitivity to those in need in our society. It is a great way to form excellent leaders, active in their response to the call for social justice. To see so many young people so enthusiastic to give is incredible. We wish that every young person can participate in such initiatives, even if they do not generally associate with the Church. Reaching out to those who are marginalised is a very human and universal call.”
The possibility to apply for this experience has been made easier this year with a donation by The Alfred Mizzi Foundation, which will support students so that lack of funds to pay fares will not be a stumbling block. “The students are ready to make great sacrifices to be able to pay their way. The donation we have received, which will be spread over three years, will open doors for even more students to avail themselves of this experience,” Fr Patrick explained.
Once the volunteers pass through the application process and are assigned to their groups, they also organise fundraising activities in the run-up to their departure. All proceeds collected are donated directly for the support of the poor among whom they will serve.
The Alfred Mizzi Foundation is committed to a three year agreement with the University Chaplaincy. “As a Foundation we acknowledge the great value of volunteering and wholeheartedly support the choice made by these volunteers to be of service. Their contribution will not only make a difference to those whom they assist but will surely continue to mould them into sensitive caring leaders our society needs,” said Antonello Gauci, a trustee of the Alfred Mizzi Foundation.