Service Camp, 10-24 July, Shkodra
Purpose of the camp
VMY Albania/ Koskovo had their annual Service Camp in Shkodra, Albania on its fifth year. The camp is a way of practicing the Vincentian charism with the main purpose of serving those who are in need. This year's camp focused on the appeal of the Pope for the "Year of Mercy" and the call of the General Father for the "Year of Vincentian Collaboration". While the main purpose of the camp was to help the needy, it was also a great opportunity to train the youth.
Organizers and participants
The camp was organized by Vincentian Missionaries and Daughters of Charity, in collaboration with Vincentian Marian Youth of Albania and Kosovo. This includes the Vincentian priests, Vincentian sisters, seminarians and the Vincentian Marian Youth. The camp was held for two weeks, from July 10-24, 2016 with an estimated participants of 35-40 per week. The VMY members who participated were accommodated in the house of Vincentian sisters in Shkodra and in the house of Vincentian priests at Grude e Re.
A common day of the camp
The daily activities started with a morning prayer with the reading of the gospel, interpreted by one of the members and followed by a reflection by the rest of the participants. The morning prayer was followed by the breakfast and then the distribution of the participants to their service centers. With varied activities from center to center, the participants stayed there for three hours a day. Afterwards, lunch is served and then the liturgy time would follow right after with a saint in the gospel discussed each day. The evenings were composed of either a Holy Mass or adoration, dinner, time for entertainment or a walk at the city
Service in the centers
With different centers, different groups were also formed. Each group was composed of a sister, a seminarian, and 3-5 members of VMY. These are the different service centers:
1. Orphanage ( with children aged 3 to 8 ). It was a summer animation camp for children as well. The youngsters have done different animation activities such : bounces, games, dancing and singing , and painting. Each day the animators prepared a special symbol (favorite characters from cartoons etc. ). Moreover, for one day the children were sent for a trip in Grude e Re, in the yard of the house of vincentian fathers, where they held different activities.
2. Palliative service- was given to very ill people with their treatment done in their houses. They were individuals who needed sedative, psychlogical support and wound treatment. Some had debukitis (wound from the laying in bed for a long time). Young people who served here for two weeks have seen progress in the patients.
3. Developement Center in Shkodra aims to offer and to significantly improve the status and quality of lives of the individuals with physical and mental disabilities. Two groups that had served there through the two weeks spent time with these individuals playing, dancing, singing, and feeding them. They also cut their hairs and nails.
4. Psychiatry is a public institution where, temporary or for long time, house mentally ill individuals. The young people who served there entertained these individuals distracting them from their reality through games, singing, dancing and painting. Moreover, the patients have also briefly narrated their past and have expressed their sentiments to the youngsters. One day was slightly special for the patients because the group has sent them to Grude e Re for other activities to entertain them.
5. House of the Sisters of Mother Theresa became a shelter for individuals with disabilities. During the two weeks, the groups who served there helped the sisters with their everyday work such as feeding the paralised patients, playing with the ones who were in better physical condition and cleaning the house.
6. Casa Mimoza is a public insitution which serves the mentally and physically ill people. Young people who served in this center have done activities whith the dwelleres there like: games, drawing, dancing, and singing, and most especially conversing with them from time to time. Two days were dedicated for houses’ cleaning, with one day spent in the garden of the Vincentian fathers in Grude e Re for some animated activities
7. Faci Bene Center is a center in the care of the Stigmatine Sisters. They also take care for the young people with mental and physical disabilities. Young people who have served in this center have performed different activities, such as city walk, singing, dancing, handycrafting, drawing etc.
Assignment of responsibilities and chores
Vincentian Fathers and Daughters of Charity were managing the camp, however the other responsibilities and chores were delegated to other members with the following groups:
a. Coordinating group- monitoring the general operation of the camp.
b. Liturgic group- responsible for the preparation for the prayer, mass and adoration.
c. Recreation group- was reponsible for organizing games and dancing
Furthermore, the camp was an opportunity for young people to experience the life in community.
Celebration of first appearance of Blessed Lady toward Catherine Laboure
On July 18, though VMY Albania and Kosovo were holding the service camp, it was also a great opportunity to commemorate the first apperance of the Blessed Virgen Mary to St. Catherine Laboure. In the evening there were organized adoration and meditation to mark this important feast for Vincentian Family, which was followed by the reading of the letter from International President and we quote this from him, ‘Today, on 18th of July, with our hearts open to mercy, we remember the day in which our Blessed Mother appeard to Saint Catherine Laboure for the fist time and trusted to her the mission to establish the Society, in order to be in the service of Kingdom of Heaven...’
Celebration of 50th anniversary of sister Donata's commitment
Date 19th of July, despite a day of service, we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Sister Donata, a Vincentian sister who serves in Durres, Albania. Participants prepared some presentation and thanksgiving letters for her. She then encouraged the youth to dare to pursue the call that God made in their lives.
Lecture about the volunteer work
One of the donors of the Service Camp, The diocesan Caritas in Shkoder Pult had also prepared a lecture related to volunteering and its values, which was explained to the participants in this camp.
Sharing of experiences
In a last day of the service camp, both, in the first and second week, all participants of the camp went to Grude e Re, where each and every one shared their experiences showing their experiences, impressions, and suggestions related to the project.
During the whole time, these activities are transmitted to others via facebook page of service camp https://www.facebook.com/kampi.i.sherbimit.shkoder/?fref=ts and the facebook profile of the VMY Albania and Kosovo https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010585689930&fref=ts .
The whole implementation of the camp required the engagement of all members who contributed their time, commitment, ideas and work. However, one of the necessary components is the finances. For the realization of this camp, we had several donors: 1. Vincentian fathers, 2. Vincentian sisters, 3. Young people 4. Diocesian Caritas Shkoder Pult, 5. Some families who donated fruits and vegetables. 6. National VMY