Embracing Community and Gratitude: the four young Maltese girls shared their experience with us.

“As four youths embarking on a journey to Rome, we found ourselves immersed in a transformative voluntary experience at Centro Pedro Arrupe, from 24 July to 4 August 2023. The Pedro Arrupe Centre, one of the Rome facilities of Centro Astalli (Jesuit Refugee Service) is divided into different realities, all oriented towards welcoming and accompanying refugee families, foreign minors in difficulty, single mothers with children.

Our stay at Arrupe Center allowed us to be of service in many different ways, starting at the headquarters Centro Astalli, where we were able to extend a helping hand at the soup kitchen and provide English lessons.

We continued by spending time with the young children at Centro Arrupe in a childcare programme, where we witnessed the innocence and joy of the children residing there.

During our time at the Centers, we were touched by the diverse individuals we encountered. From various backgrounds and with unique stories to share, these people opened our eyes to the privilege we often took for granted. The experience of meeting those without a roof over their heads, yet still maintaining positivity, left a profound impact on us. We found ourselves humbled and grateful for the basic necessities of life that we had always had — a house, a bed, and food.

Through our service at the soup kitchen, we found that even the simplest acts, like cutting fruits and vegetables or serving meals, could bring us happiness. The heartfelt expressions of gratitude and the genuine wishes for a great day from those eating at the soup kitchen left us with a sense of fulfillment.

Likewise, at Arrupe Center, creating a child care space and witnessing the children enjoying it brought us immense joy. It was heartwarming to see parents smile while observing their children integrate and play freely, with big smiles on their faces. We discovered the power of small moments that brightened our days. Whether it was a child swinging with delight, mothers dancing together, the joyous smiles of the men at the soup kitchen when greeted with warmth, or a student’s elation when they learn something new — these moments left lasting impressions.

The relationships we formed during our voluntary service were precious. We made friends not only among ourselves but also with the individuals we served at both Centro Astalli and Centro Arrupe. Our interactions with the migrants allowed us to learn about their lives and stories, fostering a deeper understanding and sensitivity for their struggles.

Needless to say, throughout our stay there was never a dull moment. And as our experience came to an end, we cherished every part of it and longed for the opportunity to relive it again. This experience taught us the value of gratitude, the beauty of community living, and the joy of giving back. We’ll be returning home forever changed, carrying with us the cherished memories that will last us a lifetime, grateful for the invaluable lessons learned, and inspired to continue making a difference in the lives of others.

Our experience was enriched by the dedication of sister Paola A., the coordinator of Pedro Arrupe, whose relentless efforts aimed to improve the center’s facilities and services. Her passion for creating a better environment touched our hearts, motivating us to contribute in any way we could.

Last but definitely not least, this experience was only possible because of the dedication and guidance of sister Ramona and sister Melissa, as they accompanied us throughout the months leading to this experience, and during the stay as well”.