This week we’ve been giving special thanks for our amazing volunteers, without whom we couldn’t do what we do. Here, Missio volunteer Margaret shares her story. Read how she came to be part of the Missio Volunteer family.
‘Becoming a Missio volunteer happened by accident. I was giving a presentation in my parish on another organisation which supports education for children in the Holy Land, when I realised that Missio’s 2018 Appeal was for a school for Iraqi Refugees in Marka in Jordan. I know that school because I’ve visited most of the 45 Catholic schools in Jerusalem, and I wondered if I could help Missio.
My first meeting with refugee children was a in a church hall in Amman in 2015. I met a group of sixty Iraqi refugees who had fled from conflict. They were happy to be alive but had arrived with nothing. Jordanian parishes provided havens and supported them in any way. The Catholic schools open for second afternoon sessions. They give the children the education they are denied because of their refugee status. In Marka, Fr Khalil had developed a structure to support these families. His initial 120 families in 2015 increased to 600 families.
Spreading the story
So, it was that in March 2019 I found myself speaking at St Bernard’s Preparatory School in Slough, giving a Missio presentation on Marka and including little Sonia. I know Jordan well having visited many times since 2005. The Christian community had been providing for the very many refugees, but the new influx was stretching Jordan’s capacity.
The children responded so positively to my presentation, with one child even sharing their knowledge of Arabic to answer my questions. As a former teacher, I know how generous children are in helping other children.
Whilst on a training project in Amman in November 2019, my husband Bernard and I went to see Marka School. We met Fr Khalil and saw the remarkable support system he had developed: his ‘Messengers of Peace’. A school of 250 children with another 250 on the waiting list, with a sewing room to make those smart uniforms for the refugee children, medical facilities, and IT training suite to provide essential training and a system of financial aid. Fr Khalil’s team documents every family properly. Every penny of charitable aid is used wisely and accounted for fully. But with the pandemic, Fr Khalil is in desperate need.
Just before lockdown I gave Missio presentations on Cambodia’s mobile tuk-tuk educational outreach to two Northampton schools. Bernard and I had travelled on tuk-tuks in the Philippines where my husband had been a VSO volunteer in 1964 teaching English. Fifty years later his co-workers still remember him. The pupils in Northampton were excited and were making great plans for their cake sales and raffles to swell their Lenten collection. We promised to return and lead some group activities. Then the world stopped, but we will go back one day!
A family tradition
We know only too well how education transforms and empowers. For the last fifteen years, I have been privileged to be involved with educational initiatives in the Holy Land helping to educate the next generation of Christians. We know from this and from my husband being in the Philippines and then our daughter Rosemary spending two years in China with VSO, that volunteering makes a difference.
Through Missio, Margaret and volunteers like her connect children in England and Wales with children all over the world through prayer and fundraising. Find out how you can join us here>>
As a child, I remember how excited my sisters and I were when Uncle Tony, made a rare trip home from Kenya. Fr Tony Nichols was a Mill Hill Missionary. My Auntie Betty, Sister Mary St Mark, edited The Franciscan Missionary Herald.
Somehow with Missio I feel I have come full circle.’
Join the Missio family!
As a Missio volunteer, you’ll receive training and support, and our endless thanks and appreciation for everything you do! From our Red Box Local Secretaries to Schools liaison, to people who share our message at Mass, we simply couldn’t do what we do without our amazing volunteers. In Volunteers Week, we’re saying a huge THANK YOU to all of our Volunteers!
If you’d like to join the Missio volunteering family, find out how here>>
As well as volunteering with Missio, Margaret is also Chair of the Cambridge Nazareth Trust which supports education in the Holy Land.