Jersey volunteers helping out the poor in Oradea diocese

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Charity has no boundaries. A selfless human endeavor can change lives of people in need across many countries and seas. A beautiful example of this happened last week, when a group of students and teachers from Beaulieu Convent School (Jersey) have visited Oradea to participate in charitable activities within the volunteer program of Caritas Catolica.

jersey-i 6The 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.

The custom was continued this year: 13 students and 3 teachers from Jersey, led by Sharon Rodrigues have spent four days between 11–14 december as volunteers in different programs of Caritas Catolica.

„Holding of a hand said it all”

jersey-i 1The youngsters have distributed warm food on the streets twice. The menu consisted of goulash soup on Wednesday, and chicken paprikash with macaroni on Saturday. Over 200 portions were distributed near the railway station and near December 1 park in Oradea – arias frequently crossed by people in need.

The volunteers from the UK didn’t only participate at the distribution, they also made the food with their own hands at the Soup Kitchen of Caritas under the guidance of chief cook Szigeti Berkeczi Hajni. They started working from the early morning hours, peeling carrots and potatoes, dicing onion and meat for hours only to bring a smile on poor people’s faces by offering them a hot meal in the cold winter weather.

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The ingredients for the food distribution were bought by the financial help of the dutch organization Stichting Oost-Europa Boskoop – longtime partner of Caritas. For this we are very grateful in the name of the beneficiaries.

„A moment that particularly stood out to me and touched me was the distribution of the soup to local people walking the streets. It was such a heartwarming and emotional experience seeing people’s gratitude and happiness of being given this small token of kindness, really moved me. A language barrier was no issue, the warm feeling of a tight hug, the holding of a hand and the expression of a face, said it all, it is something I would do again in a heartbeat!” – says Cliona, one of the volunteers.

Group activities

group activitiesDuring their stay, the volunteers from UK have participated at two group activities with the youngsters of Life with Autism Association. Our volunteers proved a high sense of empathy as they worked with love and patients with the young people with autism, who are improving their skills day-by-day under the protecting wings of Gabriella Bacsadi, leader of the association. The efficiency of her work is proven by the fact that part of the group reached a stage of development where they could be employed by a clothing factory.

The team from Jersey have also visited the Caritas Social Boarding School which provides food and accommodation for students coming from poor rural areas, in order to give them a chance to learn in the city. The boarding school has a beautiful sports room, which was equipped with tatami mats earlier this year from funds collected by the students and teachers of Beaulieu. The English and Romanian teenagers have had a  discussion about their goals, their school life, and in general how they experience life in two very different parts of the world. They also sang to each other Christmas carrols, and at the end they had a chance to try out the newly equipped gym by participating at a judo workout conducted by Sandor Varadi, teacher.

„I appreciate what I have so much more”

The volunteers from Jersey also visited some of the homecare patients of caritas and two elderly homes in Oradea and Marghita. They have brought light into the life of these old people by singing Christmas carrols, giving out small gifts, but most importantly paying attention, and caring about them.

„ When visiting the home for the elderly in Margitta I found that all the elderly people were welcoming and happy to see us. Even thought we only sang to them and spoke to them they were so moved and it felt like we had changed their day and maybe even their month or year” – 17 years old Rachel declared.

„Individual stories are those which will stick with me forever and ones which make me appreciate exactly what I have so much more” – added 18-year-old Sophie.

jersey-i 4The volunteers have also visited orphanages in Saniob and Alesd – doing facepainting, handcrafts and lots of fun activities with the children. Their efforst were rewarded with loud giggles, hugs and lots of love from part of the orphans.

Memories for a lifetime

The group from Jersey has also distributed aid packages for families with many children in financial difficulty, and in communities struck by poverty in multiple zones of Oradea and Salacea. The aid packages (mostly containing imperishable food) were purchased by Caritas with the donation from  Caritasverband Passau.

„When meeting the mayor of the Hungarian town of Salacia I was amazed by his kindness and hospitality. Everybody in the community were equally as good- natured and their thankfulness for the small gift of a food bag and a blanket touched my heart. I know that I will never forget these people. I will never to fail to remember how lucky we are in jersey after feeling the poverty that some of these remarkable people live in” – says 17 year old Catherine, student of Beaulieu Convent School.

On the last day the volunteers have placed warm winter accessories – scarves, and blankets – on the trees with the message “With love to anyone who needs them”. Caritas has been organizing similar actions for 4 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.

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After 4 action-packed days, the students returned home with recharged spirit. We are looking forward to meet other groups from Jersey next year.

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