Jersey students volunteering at Caritas
The Roman Catholic Caritas organization of Oradea has been collaborating for years with Beaulieu Convent School from Jersey. Within this partnership the Jersey students collect donations in their school each year to support different social activities of Caritas, and they also pay a visit to Oradea each year just before Christmas to do volunteering and different humanitarian aid activities.
This year, 12 students and 4 teachers have spent two days with Caritas. On the 12th of December they made a trip around the county, bringing light in the lives of many needy families and persons. Their first stop was Salacea village where they distributed 16 large food parcels led by the local mayor Horvath Bela. The donations primarily went to single mothers and families with numerous children.
Trip to poor regions
The Jersey students also visited the local gypsy colony, where they distributed chocolate and candies to over 70 kids. The food parcels were provided by Caritas, and financed through a donation from the German foundation Caritasverband Passau, while the chocolate for the gypsy children was provided by Caritas Schijndel from the Nederlands. So that for the foreign students can see some beauties too, not only poverty, mayor Horvath Bela has taken the group to visit the freshly restored Komaromy palace in Ottomany village.
The next stop was Marghita city, where the students visited St. Anton Elderly Home administrated by Caritas. The students had lunch and afterwards they interacted with the elderly residents, giving them fruits and singing Christmas carols together. The last stop of the day was the Children’s Home in Saniob village, which was also founded by Caritas, but later on became an independent and self-sustaining institution, which provides a safe environment and learning opportunities for dozens of orphans and poor children. The Jersey students brought fruits, sweets and knitted objects as gifts for the orphans and they participated at the short Christmas spectacle of the Home.
Preparing food for the homeless
At many places, they had to carry the food parcels on muddy terrain, but the ladies from Jersey did not get discouraged. They were also not afraid to get their hands dirty. On the second day, the 13th of December, they cleaned and cut to cubes 15kgs of vegetables and 5 kgs of pork meat with their own hands – from these ingredients they prepared a large goulash soup for the poor and homeless people on the streets of Oradea with the guidance of kitchen chef Szigeti Berkeczi Hajnal.
While the traditional Hungarian dish was cooking, the students made a short trip to the largest park of the town, and placed warm winter accessories – scarves, hats and gloves – on the trees with the message “With love to anyone who needs them”. Caritas has been organizing similar actions for 3 years, leaving warm winter clothes at public places where usually lots of poor people pass through. The clothes are usually picked up quite rapidly by those in need. What made this year’s action even more special is, that many of the winter accessories were hand-knitten by a group of Dutch pensioners, and sent to Caritas by the SOEB Boskoop foundation.
“My school every year does an aid trip and shares their experiences and when I heard this I wanted to part of this good work and help in anyway I could. Seeing the gratitude they show toward the smallest actions is amazing and has inspired me to carry on supporting these organizations” – declared one of the participants, 18 year old Niamh Cowieson.
When they have fulfilled their duties in the park, the students returned to the Caritas kitchen, had lunch, dressed up warm and went to the street to distribute the goulash they cooked for the homeless, in front of the central railway station. Although the vast majority of the people who received the food were poor or homeless, the girls have also offered portions to people who are commuting to work from rural areas to Oradea. Everyone was grateful for the hot and consistent soup in the chilly weather.
At the end of the day, our volunteers had some community activities in the Caritas Boarding School, and and later on they visited St. Martin’s Elderly Home. After these 2 action-packed days, the students returned home with recharged spirit. We are looking forward to meet other groups from Jersey the next year.