As part of the formation given at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary, seminarians are encouraged to undertake a voluntary experience that will help them in their formation. This year, Ġorġ Pisani, one of our two seminarians, was assigned to help in the organisation of three summer camps in Kosovo organised by the Missionaries of Charity for poor children in the city of Peja. This is how he narrates his experience.
Three summer camps were organised, one for the local children living in the neighbourhood, another one for the Roma children (as they lived in a different neighbourhood in Peja), and another summer camp for children living in the outskirts of Peja. Preparations started well before, with meetings starting in March as well as collecting materials and resources for the crafts that were to be made during the summer camp.
Our usual routine consisted in having breakfast together while discussing our programme for the day and ironing out the final details regarding the activities planned for the day. For the first group we used to do the summer camp in a public park in the heart of the city, situated some twenty minutes away from where we were stationed, while a minibus service was provided by the sisters for the children who did not live in the vicinity of the park. For the second group we would take a fifteen-minute bus ride to arrive in an empty field where the summer camp was conducted, while for the last summer camp we would take a bus ride longer than 45 minutes were we would do the summer camp in a private field which we were permitted to use.
The summer camp commenced by gathering the children into a circle and playing some music to dance with them. Afterwards we would divide the children into three groups based on their age, with myself, another Maltese volunteer and three other Kosovar volunteers responsible for the eldest group. Afterwards we would distribute a snack and then start doing crafts with the children. We would start by explaining to the Kosovar volunteers how the crafts were to be done and then they would explain to the children how to do the crafts in their native language, Albanian. We would then assist the children in their crafts and also participate in the games with them. The summer camp would end with some more music and dancing, after the morning had ended.
Afterwards we would return back to the sisters’ convent to share a small meal with all the volunteers. We would return in the afternoon to decide the activities and crafts for the following day as well as to pack the materials needed. We would also sometimes spend some time with lodgers suffering from dementia and other mental disabilities cared for by the Sisters of Mother Theresa, doing activities with them or simply helping them have a good time.
This was a wonderful experience not only for the beautiful memories and new friendships forged, but for the possibility of enjoying the simplicity in life, not to mention witnessing the sheer joy on the children’s faces with the simplest of things. I would strongly recommend to anyone who is able-bodied to partake in a voluntary experience, as it is such an enriching moment.