Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Malta assembled 741 refugee welcome kits in November and December of 2017, working toward a final goal of 2000 kits. Each kit included a pillow case, 2 sheets, towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, plastic cup and toilet paper. Sanitary supplies, maternity pads, T-shirts and flipflops were also supplied to new mothers.
The project was conceived after Gilles François, Europe Area Welfare Manager, met with directors of AWAS, the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers. This is a government agency that maintains reception facilities and provides information about employment, housing, health, welfare and education for refugees. The agency also coordinates with voluntary organizations that are helping asylum seekers--most of whom cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa by way of Libya.
Martin de Carlo, Malta Branch President, reported that this was the first time the Church in Malta had donated to an agency. Malta, a beautiful island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, is part of the Italy Rome Mission.
Elder Kevin and Sister Maria Thompson, senior member support missionaries on Malta, were serving their third mission in the Italy Rome Mission. Although busy with several callings in the branch, they also worked closely with management of AWAS to organize the project through the Church warehouse in Germany. They reported that the branch members fully supported this effort. When a shipment of supplies arrived, members helped unpack the pallets. They then assembled the kits, which were transported to the refugee camps. There the members helped again as they unloaded and stored the kits in the camps’ warehouse facilities. Without the members’ constant help, the project could not go ahead.
“This is such a worthwhile program,” said Elder and Sister Thompson. “We have a few refugees in our branch here on Malta. Some of them also live in a refugee camp. We see first-hand the many refugees who need the kits supplied by the Church.”
AWAS leaders are grateful for the support that LDS Charities and local members gave. They also appreciate the fact that the members of the Church didn’t just assemble the kits but helped all along the way. The young full-time missionaries appreciated the opportunity to serve and to meet the AWAS leaders at the camp.