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60 students from the University of Malta have done voluntary service abroad. Six different groups of young people have served among the poor and marginalized in Palermo, Florence, London, Romania, Ethiopia and Egypt.

A simple send-off ceremony took place on Saturday 27 July at the university chaplaincy during which the chaplain, Fr. Patrick Magro, augured these young students to live this experience to the full, thanking them for devoting their time and energy to those in need. Each one was given a personal diary and sunflower seeds. The young people heading for Palermo, Florence, Romania and London have worked with children in institutions run by the Sisters of Charity.

The group volunteering in Egypt have run a summer camp for about 200 children in the so-called “garbage village”, where the inhabitants live in extreme conditions, on mountains of garbage. Fr. Anthony Fenech SJ, a Maltese Jesuit who has served in Egypt for many years accompanied the students throughout their experience.

The youngsters who have gone to Ethiopia devoted themselves to the care of the sick and the marginalized. “Every young person returns home changed by these experiences”, Fr. Patrick said. “These are experiences that mark the beginning of a new life.They have been generous in giving, they will receive something even more precious. This voluntary work experience shared with their peers increases their sensitivity towards those in need. It is an effective way to form leaders who are active in promoting true social justice.”

Thanks to funds donated, these experiences are now made accessible to a greater number of young people for another three years. Finally, a further group of students journeyed on the Camino de Santiago during the first two weeks of August, accompanied by Patrick Magro SJ and Mark Cachia SJ.

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