Order of Malta summer camps: continuing the tradition of care for the disabled
For the Order of Malta, summer means camps for disabled young people and once again a chance for members and volunteers in numerous countries to offer their services. Whether a volunteer or a guest, it is a unique and enriching experience for all involved.
Here are just a few examples of the initiatives organised on an international or national level.
The Order of Malta International Summer Camp
This year it is the turn of the Netherlands to host the thirty-first edition of the annual International Camp for disabled young people. Some 500 people from 20 countries will be participating from 9 to 16 August. A week of friendship, team work, entertainment and integration for the disabled aged from 18 to 35. Thanks to the support of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, the camp will be held in the Royal Netherlands Army Base “Harskamp/General Winkelman” in the splendid setting of the De Veluwe national park, fifty kilometres south-east of Amsterdam. Just as in the previous editions, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing will be taking part in the International Camp.
Nine summer camps for the disabled in Lebanon
There are nine summer camps being organised in Sourat, Lebanon. European young people – mainly German, British and Dutch – are working alongside their Lebanese contemporaries to offer a week of recreational activities to guests with physical and mental disabilities from hospitals or specialised centres in the Middle Eastern country. This is an important emotional and cultural experience for all involved. The first camp began on 29 June and the last will end on 11 September.
Preparations for the Italian summer camp are in full swing
There is just a week to go before the start of the Italian summer camp for the disabled, organised by the Sovereign Order of Malta’s three Italian Grand Priories and Relief Corps. After Magione in Umbria last summer, participants and volunteers will meet up again this year in Ozzano, near Bologna, for a week from 28 July to 3 August, where they will share moments of recreation and amusement, of friendship and of spirituality.
“We’re very busy with preparations and as always there’s a great rush as the deadline approaches,” says Barbara Pinto Folicaldi, one of the camp organisers . “Thank goodness for the volunteers, because we couldn’t manage to do it without them,” she admits, explaining that attendance at the camp is constantly increasing. And the numbers prove it: this year 40 guests and some 70 volunteers are expected, as well as 10 kitchen staff. The camps are growing year by year (in 2013 there were only 90 participants and organisers), also thanks to the recommendations of volunteers who find the opportunity to make themselves useful and support their guests, often marginalised and excluded from society. This is the spirit of the summer camp: to remove all barriers.
“Ukraine, dream!”. The summer camp for young people in Ukraine
Over 150 people participated in the Order of Malta’s fifteenth summer camp for the young in Ukraine. Participants included orphans and physically disabled people from Byelorussia, Russia and Germany, who for a week lived as a family with their Ukrainian coevals. The camp was held in the western part of the country (Ivano-Frankivsk region), in the village of Dora among the beautiful Carpathian mountains. The motto of the camp, in which a number of volunteers offered their services, was “Ukraine, dream!”.
For a week participants were able to enjoy sporting and recreational activities, go walking in the mountains, learn how to carve and create dolls, take part in cooking competitions and first-aid courses, singing and enjoying themselves together. All the activities were accompanied by daily prayers and religious celebrations. As every year, the event was organised by Ukrainska Maltijska Sluzba Dopomohy, the Order of Malta’s Relief Corps in Ukraine which operates from Lviv.