The Youth of the Year Award 2014 organised by the Kerŷgma Movement was awarded to the Youth Alive Foundation from Marsascala. The award, which is sponsored by APS Bank, was announced by Ms Tania Borg, President of the Kerŷgma Movement.
Mr Edgar Preca who represented the President of Malta, presented the trophy at the end of a mass which was celebrated at St Dominic’s Church, Rabat on Friday 30 January 2015. Also present at the ceremony were Prof. Emanuel P. Delia, Chairman of APS Bank Limited who sponsored the event, and Mrs. Tania Borg, President of Kerŷgma Movement, among other guests.
“The Youth Alive Foundation is an organization of young volunteers which originated in 1996 as a youth ministry named “Youth Alive” within Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish in Sliema. The main objective of the group has always been the formation of youth through active participation in the community based on the solid foundations of the Word of God and the Franciscan spirituality. In August 2007, Youth Alive was set up as a Foundation, centered at “Dar Frate Jacoba” in Marsascala which house had been donated to them by two kind-hearted women. This home consists of a 200 year old farmhouse and includes various acres of arable land.
Spirituality, charity and the environment are the three pillars on which Dar Frate Jacoba is founded. The residents live in an open community, with a permaculture system, which is the best system that embraces these three pillars. This is the first and currently the only Home in Malta to date, that practices these three principles in a sustainable manner.
This Home welcomes young people who are going through difficult life situations and who are often labelled as ‘social cases’ living on the edge of society and who are homeless. This innovative project is centered around an open community of Religious and lay people living together with and catering for these youths. There are also a number of other youngsters who attend for a number of hours or even days to benefit from the services offered at the Home. In the essence of such environment one can find a therapeutic system which allows the liberation of the inner self and violence is not inflicted against the person’s character. The person learns to overcome his fears and inhibitions without causing damage to him or to others, allowing his true character to emerge. These young people learn to help each other, work in the fields and care for the farm animals and at the same time go out to work or attend school. Youth Alive Foundation is currently taking care of five young people between 11 and 17 years of age. In view that the demand has been great and placements are limited, Youth Alive Foundation decided to expand the Home to be able to cater for up to 16 youths. This project consists of a basement, a semi-basement and another floor with eleven bedrooms. The actual building is already completed in shell form and work has now commenced on its finishing. Although all works are dependent on the generous donations from benefactors, the Foundation organises a number of fund-raising activities since the cost of the new building amounts to €200,000. Among these initiatives are schemes whereby people pledge donations over a number of years. Open weekends are also held where crafts and food products produced during the year by the residents, are sold. Social activities include barbecues and dinners. Volunteers attend frequent courses of formation, retreats, spirituality, among other subjects.
The lifestyle adopted at the Home requires a lot of patience and dedication. The point of departure is known but the road is long. The highs and lows together with other challenges are there to continue strenghtening the commitment of the Youth Alive Foundation.
The nominees for this year’s Award were: Joseph Cauchi from Għarb, Gozo, Franco Cefai from Żebbuġ, Gozo, Andrea Grima from Luqa, Edward Mifsud from Fgura and the Youth Alive Foundation from Marsascala.
This trophy is awarded every year in honour of the late Dr Rudolph Saliba who was Kerygma Movement’s first president. Mr Preca congratulated the winner and all the other nominees. He stated that being a Christian today was very difficult as could be seen from what was going on in other countries abroad where christians are being massacred daily. In Malta too, being a Christian is not considered trendy any more. However this did not prevent him from showing his beliefs even in public places. Prayer was of utmost importance. He said that it was unfortunate that the media practically always portrays the negative element of today’s youngsters such as when they take drugs or commit crimes but did not do the same to promote the good so many other youngsters were doing in society. An excellent example was that portrayed by the five nominees for this year’s award.