Power and motivation in the Temporary Shelter for Families

Helping children and parents, organizing events, sorting clothes, supporting colleagues in their daily, regular tasks. Teresa Konecka, a volunteer from Poland, works in the Temporary Shelter for Families at Szatmár utca, Zugló. Natalia Puchajda, Polish EVS volunteer is reporting.

Several foreign volunteers work at the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta (Magyar Máltai Szeretetszolgálat). In December, I visited the Temporary Shelter for Families in Békásmegyer, where Krystian, a Polish volunteer was working. In March I saw the work of Jonas, who works with elderly people. This time I spent a day with Teresa, a volunteer from Poland, who works with families that live in the Temporary Shelter for Families. During the day when I was there, I saw her mostly focused on teaching English and working in the stock.

Working in the office (Photo: Natalia Puchajda)

We started the day with going to the stock. We chose the clothes which families would like to wear. Lots of winter clothes arrived to the shelter which aren’t useful this time of the year, so we packed these into some bags. Also some clothes were too destroyed. In such case we also removed them from the stock. The rest of the clothes which were good, we separated into clothes for men, women, children and babies. There were also some toys, duvets and even baths for babies. Later we had some handicraft activity. A few days ago Teresa and her colleagues created balls from wood, glue and balloons. When I was there it was already dry, so we could remove the glue from the wool pieces.

After that, in the afternoon Teresa’s students, two girls arrived to the English lesson. I had the opportunity to participate in one of such lessons. The girls were 11 and 12 years old. She spoke to them only in English so they didn’t have the chance to speak in Hungarian. The girls were glad that they could spend an hour with Teresa. They really like to come every week to her. It’s not a must for them, they do it because they enjoy the lessons.

Photo: Márk Horváth

After the English lesson, we went to the stock again. There were a lot of bags to check whether the content is useful for families. It was interesting for me to see that as she has been working there from September, she already knows what kind of clothes families prefer.

Teresa is also responsible for taking care of children when their parents have a meeting with social workers from Malta. Her task is also to support social workers in their work. She helps them day by day in their daily, regular tasks but she also organizes some events with them.

She always takes care of the decoration in the Temporary Shelter for Families. She prepares some decorations for every season during the year.

She also checks if children aren’t at home during the classes at school. Unfortunately, lots of children don’t like to go to school and they don’t see the sense of studying.

But it’s not the end of her tasks. Teresa even feeds babies and swaddles them sometimes. If someone is interested in craft work, she is responsible for preparing materials for it. She also helps to organize and manage the music therapy. Teresa also goes shopping: she buys groceries and art articles.

She also supports the work of Budapesti Máltai Fiatalok. She participates in some events as a volunteer which are organized by the youth volunteering branch of the Charity Service.

Having fun at Máltai Fiatalok Festival (Photo: Csaba Babus)

She has a lot of very interesting and various tasks, so she is definitely not bored of her work. She really likes her job and has a lot of contact with people. A family can live in the Temporary Shelter for Families for one-one and a half year, so she has opportunity to get to know new persons. Families living there have difficult financial or mental situation. She feels that she does something good with supporting them as a Malteser volunteer.

Photo: Csaba Babus

During this day Teresa also shared a personal story: “I have a student whose name is Brandon. Neither his mom nor his dad are speaking English, but Brandon decided to learn English as other children. He is a really nice and polite boy. He is my first English star in the Hungarian night sky and he is the fastest learner in my 10 years long teaching career. And guess what… He is only 2!”

Natalia Puchajda