May Day and What Came Afterwards

On the weekends we held tournaments and story telling time in Ócsa, we took part in enlightening and motivating discussions with our tutoring volunteers, and concerning our volunteer psychologists program, we asked the young volunteers to share their experiences.

During the first weekend of May, the residents of the Ócsa community organized a magnificent May 1st picnic, to which they invited the Malteser Youth group. The overcast weather did not discourage us: in the pouring rain we played competitive games, wherein a variety of tasks was solved by two groups of children. This time, however, the weather was not on our side: it began raining even more toward the end of the game, though this didn’t prevent the young ones from enthusiastically hunting the playground for hidden treasures, or rather, the scattered sweets. After the tournament, in the Malteser house the children could participate in face painting, and it was here that the residents prepared the festive meal: the day’s menu consisted of gulyás soup, deer stew and pancakes.

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During the following weekend we organized a workshop for the older kids. In May we introduced the theme of friendship with the help of guided discussions, Dixit cards and story dices. The older kids were able to share their own experiences and stories relating to friendship in written form and acting out situations.

For the third weekend, it was the younger kids’ turn again: they took part in afternoon story time, during which they heard a tale about a huge red ball, and following were various ball games. At the end of the workshop, we shared with them the story books gathered during the volunteer discussion in April. Each received their own personal, customized reading materials.

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What did the kids answer? “I am going home now to read!” – announced one of the girls, when she received the book entitled Icike-picike. “Do you want to look through the books together on the playground?” – asked one girl to another. “How wonderful, I just learned how to read!” – mentioned one boy, whom we saw a little later reading the teddy-bear book whilst biking, and just last week, he proudly shared with how far he has read into the story. One of the girls, whom we recently met, told us that the kindergarten teacher reads Beauty and the Beast for her before the naptime. It looks like the donations found themselves in good hands.

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During this month we began planning this year’s summer camp. After the success of last year’s camp, we organize a 5-day program in Esztergom at the end of July for the Ócsa kids. Together with our Malteser colleagues working in Ócsa we determined the framework, and we discussed who we’ll invite from the children this year. After our Saturday workshop, we walked around to visit the families, personally discussed the camp’s framework, and we passed out to them the application forms, which, when signed, finalized the children’s registration.

The month’s final weekend offered a diverse day program for the kids: the younger children created their own figurines out of balloons, following were various ball games, and finally, one couldn’t miss the almost traditional sweets treasure hunt.

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At the beginning of May we held discussions for our volunteer tutors. With the approaching end of the school year, the youngsters teach the children with even greater experience and enthusiasm. Each recalled their own positive experiences and difficulties, and together agreed that next year they would willingly continue the tutoring, and teaching the children from difficult backgrounds. In addition to the planning so far, there were plans and drafts about how the program may be continued and expanded from September this year.

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Tutoring in the youth office

Our volunteer psychologist program’s article series also continued in May. In April, we spoke with the the youngsters working with the children, and in May, the psychologists holding individual consultations with adults (the homeless, addicts, parents) came into focus.

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Consultation at the Daytime Warming Room

We also launched a new series on our website. We asked the Malteser Charity leaders about volunteering, the role of young people, and their part in the renewal of the Malteser Charity Service. In the first month, the vice president of the Charity Service, Miklós Vecsei, shared with us his  views, and this month with Emília Morva, the head of the Central Hungarian region, we discussed traditional and innovative volunteer programs, the responsibilities of young people and the ways of offering helping hands.

In addition to the article series, a popular program series continued. On Friday May 22nd, at the Chapel besides the central office of the Charity Service, the Malteser colleagues gathered together for the “Lélekmelengető” program. Kovács Csaba Albert, a priest from Sopronkövesd, spoke about prayer with the participants. The Malteser Youth group filmed the program so as to have a record for those who were unable to participate during this particular gathering.

The results from the February submitted Erasmus+ programs came out. It looks like we will continue to build good relationships with the Baltic countries, since we will participate in another program organised by the Maltesers in Lithuania. The project entitled Beyond Taking and Giving has received support, the theme of which is volunteering experience, the skills gained and their applicability in the labor market. The Hungarian youths will take part in the project in September with Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Romanians, Italians, Turkish and Icelandic youths.

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International youth exchange in Lithuania, February 2015

This last month was a huge success with far-reaching results concerning our website visitors. The numbers speak for themselves: in this last month 1000 users clicked nearly 5000 times on our website. Out of the viewers, more than 10% of these visitors return. This time we looked at the list of the top ten cities, in place of the country “competition” from last time. Given our site’s name and our programs, it is not a surprise Budapest is leading in the number of visitors. Among the Hungarians cities, Szeged, Debrecen, Szentendre and Zalaegerszeg made the list, with a nice performance from Transylvania: the readers in Székelyudvarhely and Marosvásárhely were also curious about us. Among the foreign cities, both London and Amsterdam have made the top list.

Translated by: Tiffany Kovacs