Collaboration for the future of youth work

Introducing Vision 2050, uniting the youth groups of the Order of Malta and setting common goals – these were the basic aims of the working meeting at Budapest. In addition, the Malteser Youth Network in Central and Eastern Europe had the chance to strengthen their group, and discuss further steps.

Budapest hosted the international event initiated by Vision 2050 during the last weekend of June. At the occasion the first steps of cooperation have been made between the Malteser Youth Network, the Vision 2050 and other youth representatives of Order of Malta Relief Organisations in Europe. Vision 2050 is an international and borderless community of the Order of Malta led by the younger members and volunteers, which provides support and financial assistance for works of the young generation. Launched by HMEH the Grand Master in 2013, under the auspices of the Grand Chancellor and Grand Hospitaller, Vision 2050 provides support for the young members and volunteers, involved in both the local and international activities of the Order, to come together, share best practices and collaborate in their activities and discussions.

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Photo: Mark Horvath

On the evening of Friday 26th June, the reception took place at KIOSK Budapest, a venue next to the Danube, with a stunning view of the Inner City Parish Church and the downtown of the Hungarian capital. After a time, the upstairs floor was filled with the representatives of the countries, the members and families of the Order of Malta, and the youth volunteers. The participants had the opportunity to meet each other (some for the first time, others as long time acquaintances), and to have a relaxed evening together. Eleanor Abou-Sakr and Judit Hajos, the two main organisers welcomed all the attending people with a short greeting.

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Photo: Mark Horvath

The reception finished with a supper at the open-air terrace of the restaurant, where people could get to know each other, and they had the chance to continue the discussions they had started earlier.

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Photo: Mark Horvath

The next day, the Malteser Youth Network started working from the morning, to finalise the presentation of the Network for the Saturday afternoon meeting. The members of the six countries prepared the documents (such as the statement, the activity calendar and the presentation) of the Network in different working groups before the meeting. As a final step, the representatives, who were on the spot in Budapest, changed some parts of the slides, and decided on the Romanian and Hungarian youth coordinators to deliver the presentation.

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The joint meeting of Vision 2050 and the Malteser Youth Network was held at the Palace of Saint John, the headquarter of the Order of Malta in Hungary. The elegant and relaxed location can be found at one of the narrow streets of the Castle district.

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The session was opened by Imre Ugron, who welcomed the group to Budapest and started with a prayer. As someone who has been involved in both the building of Vision 2050 and the Malteser Youth Network, he spoke of the importance of working together, across borders, and that a balance must be kept between the social focused work and the protection of the faith.

Following the first round, when each member of the group introduced themselves and their involvement in the Order of Malta, a presentation of the Malteser Youth Network was made, which summarised the meetings and discussions of the group to date, included their mission and objectives, as well as their proposals for the future. There followed a presentation introducing Vision 2050 as a platform for the youth of the Order internationally and a support for their works and discussions.

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Both presentations highlighted how the aims of the Malteser Youth Network were very much in line with Vision 2050, in its emphasis on collaboration between the youth, the sharing of best practices and resources. There are however many ways in which Vision 2050 can support Malteser Youth Network, and Malteser Youth Network can contribute to the work that Vision 2050 is doing.

After an inspiring coffee break at the yard of the building, the second part of the meeting focused on the ideas of cooperation, joint future plans and deciding on the next steps to accomplish. One of the topics was the wish to connect young volunteers more with the Order through common activities, partnerships and delivering information. Another important part of the discussion was about sharing resources, as one of the basic ideas of the cooperation. Detailed manuals for projects, toolkits for volunteer management, fundraising instructions, a set of best practices could be collected. As a platform, the Vision 2050 website could be used, to be the base for sharing resources within the youth.

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As for the next steps of the cooperation between Vision 2050 and the Malteser Youth Network, the members of the group agreed on four points. Firstly, to organise the next meeting between the two entities, which is proposed to be in Warsaw to coincide with the Polish Knights of Malta Ball in the beginning of September. Secondly, the Network should nominate a representative as a Vision 2050 liaison. As for the external communication, they are going to share Facebook posts and articles. Regarding the internal communication, they try to set up a yammer group for the Vision 2050 representatives. Finally, the Malteser Youth Network offered to contribute in adding resources and best practice materials to the Vision 2050 website, which is about to be launched this autumn.

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Following the Saturday afternoon meeting, most of the people attended the Charity Ball, organised by the Hungarian Association for the occasion of St John’s Day. For the members of the Network, it was time to say farewell, hoping to have an opportunity to meet again in the very near future and to continue with the motivating plans and ideas, initiated during the short, but effective first meeting.

Reka Szakszon