For the past 6 months I have been part of a discernment program. This program helped me stop and see what God is calling me to. It has been an out of this world experience, and I learned so much from this time. At the end of the residential period of this program, I was sent for a one month voluntary experience in Bormla.
Bormla (also known as Cospicua) is a beautiful double-fortified city located on the East side of the Grand Harbour of Malta, opposite Valletta. Cospicua is flanked by Senglea (Isla) on the West and Vittoriosia (Birgu) on the East, making up the Cottonera region. Bormla is the largest of the three cities, with a population of approximately 5,642. Cospicua was declared a city in 1722 by Grandmaster Marc Antonio Zondadari. According to the discovery of three megalithic structures and a number of tools and flints found in this city revealed that this city was already inhabited during megalithic times. It was also the earliest city to be fortified, with the bastions built by the Order of the Knights of Malta. During the times of the Phoenicians, the city had also served as a shelter for their ships. Graves from this era are found in different areas of the city. During the Carthaginian and Roman occupation, the harbour facilities were enhanced, and the Dockyard Creek had started to be used as well. In 1776, the Knights of St. John constructed a functional dockyard, which played an important role in the history of Bormla. The British made extensive use of this dockyard, particularly during the First and Second World War. With Malta’s independence, the dockyard became one of the most economic controversies of the island.
Bormla is a stunning city with spectacular views, breathtaking architecture and a unique way of life. When walking along the narrow streets of this treasure cove one immediately falls in love with the people, the place, and it’s potential. I was not sent to Bormla to admire this beautiful city, but I was sent to work with the Missionaries of Charity, better known as the nuns of Mother Theresa. I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive on discovering that I will be going to work with the nuns of Mother Theresa especially because I didn’t know much about their work in Malta. But I was soon to discover that the Missionaries of Charity are a hidden gem of love in Bormla.
I was not alone in this experience, we were in total 16 volunteers all from different walks of life. Most of us students, all from different faculties ranging from medical, law, social work, theology, psychology etc. Our main job was that of helping the nuns run a summer camp of approximately 80 children, all with some sort of story or social ailment. Together with another two volunteers I was given the task of taking care of the children aged 3 – 5. We immediately fell in love with all the children, although it was a big challenge to install order, routine, and discipline.
We also saw great suffering, and I felt helpless in front of some really sad situations. Perhaps my greatest challenge was: how could I represent Christ in front of such hardship, and desperate situations. What I learned from the nuns is that our presence is enough. The greatest need of these children was not money, food, or clothes. The thing they needed most was affection, and unconditional love.
I come form a background of radical evangelisation. But I realised that there is power in just showing someone that you care, that you are not judging them, that you love them just the way they are. Just spending an afternoon with the nuns of Mother Theresa will impress anyone, the amount of people who turn to them at times can be overwhelming. They help feed over 50 families a day, and visit many families who live in houses that lacks basic amenities and sanitation. One particular lady locked herself in her house and only opens the door for the nuns who do her shopping, clean her house, and visit her every day to remind her to eat.
What a stellar job these nuns are doing. I was humbled by their zeal and energy that is all centred around their prayer life, and communal love they have for one another. They are an excellent example in our society of strong women who have given their life to Jesus and supporting hundreds of families who are in need.
This experience has taught me many things, and brought me to my knees and tears many times. But the most memorable lesson I shall be taking back with me is that many times we say that we wish to see change, and we are the first to say that someone should do something about a particular situation. But we are called to do it ourselves. It may feel that our work, or our effort is just a drop in an ocean, but an ocean is made up of billions and billions of drops and my little drop is as important as your little drop. God called us to do it ourselves. He called us to be the change we wish to see. We are the ones who are to bring hope to the hopeless, we are the ones who are to be the light in the darkness.
I know that this may sound a bit of a cliche but it is true that we need to be faithful in small things because it is in them that our strength lies. If we can’t feed all the hungry people, if we can’t show affection to all the lonely children, if we can’t bring hope to all hopeless situations then let us start with just one. Let us be that drop in the ocean remembering that the ocean is made of many drops.
So I conclude this blog with a recommendation and an invitation. If you are looking for a way to make a difference, consider a voluntary experience with the Missionaries of Charity and you will realise that even a little drop can make a difference in a big ocean.