Heartwarming Summer Stories - Activities of the Malteser Youth International Network
Roma and Egyptian children riding horses at a beach in Albania, preventive holidays for children living with foster families in the Czech Republic, enjoying the simple style of living in tents in Germany, disabled young people having fun and valuable time together, building a time machine in Lithuania and exploring different cultures in 168 hours in Ukraine.
During the summer of 2016 all together more than 1500 children and youngsters had the chance to enjoy programs and camps in the 9 countries of the Malteser Youth International Network.
The 15th summer school-camp of the Albanian Organization of Order of Malta was organized in the Velipoja beach from 25 June to 27July, and welcomed Roma and Egyptian children and children from remote areas of Northern Albania. They were given the opportunity to enjoy summer vacation, which their families couldn’t afford due to economic and social reasons, since they come from poor and isolated backgrounds. These kids were often begging on the streets of a Roma camp near Drin River in Shkoder. In total the camp welcomed 270 children. Except the daily camp activities, the Albanian Organization of the Order of Malta provides also horse riding and swimming lessons.
Malteser Aid in Olomouc Centre every year during summer holidays organizes preventive holiday camp for children from disadvantaged or foster families (aged 5-14 years). The preventive holiday camp lasts seven days and is aimed at building identity, developing positive skills of children, development of cooperation and preventing unwanted behavior. A team of experienced leaders take care about children individually, based on their needs. Since 2011 (when the Olomouc Center organized the first preventative holidays) the interest of children and parents or caregivers, about this activity continues to grow. This year 24 children participated in the camp.
Every year at the summer holidays the Malteser Youth Germany comes together for their great summer camp, the “Bundesjugendlager”. It is a long tradition that every year another district organises the camp and invites all other districts to the camp. This year the camp was located in Saarloui, southwest Germany, near the german-France border. During the seven days almost 750 children, teenagers and young adults from all over Germany and even from Ukraine and Lithuania participated in the event. The focus of the camp is on the simple living in tents, the experience of the camp community and to get in contact with new Maltesers in the same age. The highlights were the nights at the camp fire, the sport competition and the holy mass with the bishop Stefan Ackerman. Next to the regular groups this year a few young refugees also took part in the camp.
A mysterious tale world was built up in the camp of the Malteser Youth in the middle of July. The frame story of the event was about a king who needs the help of the children in creating order in his kingdom. 19 kids took part in the 5-days-long camp in a village close to the Tisza lake, in the Eastern part of Hungary. The participating children came from disadvantaged families, so for all of them it was a real magic to attend the diverse programs. They had the chance to jump all around the bouncing castle, to swim and play in the nearby lake, to try different kind of sports, to climb through the trees and ropes of an adventure park, and to meet the animals of the “Hungarian desert”, Hortobágy. After five days of exciting programs, all the kids received personal feedback and some gifts, which made the story of the camp a real happy ending.
This year summer camp of Malteser Youth in Lithuania traditionally took place in the campsite near by a lake, surrounded by a forest where even it's quite hard to catch mobile communications, so youth had possibility to try life without internet just being in the camp. In 2016 the title of the summer camp was “Time machine or lost in the time”. Each day participants of the camp were involved to come in different historical epochs starting from Stone age, antiquity, middle ages, new times, present time and finishing with the future. During each day they were invited to find new details about Order of Malta history. Also this year Malteser youth summer camp was the biggest camp ever made by Malteser in Lithuania it attracted more than 100 Malteser Youth from all Lithuania and it is one fifth of all Malteser Youth in Lithuania. During the summer camp volunteers are not only having fun, but they are also learning through non-formal learning methods on which the camp programs are built. The best evaluation of the summer camp for the volunteers who organised the camp are the farewell tears.
Maltese Summer Camps for People with Disabilities took place since 2005 in Szczyrzyc (near Cracow). This year in the beginning of June, was the 12th edition of the camp. Participants were people with mental and/or physical disabilities and Malteser volunteers: nurses, paramedics, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, teachers, pupils and students from all around Poland. The camp was seven days long and is aimed at taking a rest, integration, getting in contact with volunteers and having fun together. Participants took part in many workshops, games, sport competition, trips and also holy masses and prayers. Since 2005, when the first camp was organized, more than 550 disabled and 600 volunteers took part in the camps.
As every summer for 14 years now, over 100 youths with physical impairments and volunteers have met this July in Valcele, Covasna county in the traditional camp organized by the youths from the Order of Malta Relief Organisation in Romania. Physically disabled young people, helpers and volunteers participated at this project. The camp focuses on social integration of physically disabled young people not only by offering them the opportunity to relax and to spend time among friends, but also providing them and their helpers specific counseling and occupational therapies. For many of the disabled young people, this camp is the only occasion to leave their everyday space and spend time in nature together with people of their age. With a varied program of sports activities (table tennis, paintball, fishing, riding horses therapeutic for people with disabilities), the trip to Lake Saint Anne, carnival, music and dance, the camp was a success, reflected in the smiles of the participants and their thoughts full of nostalgia for the days of summer.
In the end of the summer, Malteser Aid Slovakia participated at Slovak International Air Fest 2016 at Slia? Airport (SIAF 2016). They provided drinkable water, first aid and tents for visitors to take a rest in the summer heat. In addition, their sector offered the only barrier-free access for disabled people to the jet-fighter cockpit. Visitors with disabilities were able to see and experience the jet-fighter not only from outside, but from inside. They also took care of two organised groups, one from Physical Therapy Clinic Marína, the other from Oncological Hospice The Light of Hope. They were able to see the whole exposition of SIAF 2016, including various F-16 and MiG-29 fighters. The peak of programme was however the visit of the exposition of U.S. Air Force strategic bomber B-52. Malteser Aid Slovakia hopes and tries to establish its presence at SIAF as a permanent tradition of next summers.
The annual all-Ukrainian Maltese camp, which this year was called “Around the world in 168 hours” took place in Dora (beautiful village in mountains) from 3rd to 10th of July. It was an unforgettable week for more than 170 participants from different Maltese groups, friends from orphanages and some guests from Germany. Even if virtually they didn’t visit all countries of the world, with the help of interesting methods, they were trying to open something new for them from the different cultures and countries. In 168 hours during the active and interesting program more than 170 participants 7 times took part at the Holy mass, 6 times had full morning exercises, 1000000 times smiled to each other, said 1 450 000 good words to each other, used 100 markers and pens, wrote 200 letters, sang 500 songs near the fire, 30 times gave hugs during the “song for hugs”, danced 1000 dances, used 25 tons of the technical water, ate 1209 kg of products, drunk 980 liters of the hot tea, 300 liters of cold tea and 100 liters of milk.
Farewell tears are the best evaluation of the summer camp for the volunteers who organised the event.