I remember that several years ago I read a quote which perfectly describes what we as JRS are trying to do in Maltese schools.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”. (Nelson Mandela)
No one is born with prejudices against migrants. As the person responsible for the JRS school outreach programme, I saw how open-minded children are. Being in the same class with foreigners and refugees is not an issue for them. They are together and they cannot even imagine that such differences might prevent them from playing, living or having fun together.
Through our outreach activities in schools, during which we introduce children to the topic, we create a space of encounter where children can meet refugees and listen to their story.
After this encounter, many students come up with initiatives which seek to improve the lives of refugees and even raise some funds to support our work at JRS.
I strongly believe that these seeds will bear fruit in the future, in the form of a Maltese society which will be more welcoming inclusive. Malta will thus become a common home for different people.
– Vyacheslav Okun sj