John was the first to be admitted to our residential facility after not being able to pay the increase in his monthly rent. He had not been issued a work permit and employers were abusing this by taking him on and making him work lengthy hours whilst paying him less than everybody else. John is just one example of so many others that come to us who are without documentation and exploited in this fashion. He is an example of modern slavery.
John knew that he was being treated unfairly, whether because of his skin colour, culture or lack of documentation. However he did not allow the treatment he received from others to influence his own humanity. The residents, staff and volunteers at YMCA Malta quickly became his family.
Peter came to us several months later. He and John were of the same origin and culture and connected immediately. Life for Peter seemed to be constantly working against him, opportunities for employment were scarce and most of his daily efforts amounted to simple survive in a toxic environment whereby he was not seen as an individual but as a ‘race’. He found great support in John whilst he settled in. Living with 30 others in a residential setting is not easy! He helped him realise that he could be seen, acknowledged and appreciated for who he is.
Peter in turned helped John find better employment. Spending time together after work and cooking traditional dinners became a tradition shared by all residents of the shelter. Peter and John’s bond became an invaluable lesson in compassion to the rest of the service users, as well as to us on the team.
They both worked hard and after a few months were able to find a shared apartment, lessening the financial burden for both of them. We provided them with the necessary help in transitioning into their new place. Both are still in contact with us and are doing great.
John and Peter came to us on their own but left together. They arrived feeling lost but left determined to create a better future together. The greatest lessons in life are learnt from those who know suffering. This duo taught us that together we are stronger and that connection is healing.