Leaders of the Sovereign Order of Malta’s medical and humanitarian activities meet in Paris
The 25th annual meeting of the leaders of Order of Malta charitable activities gathered last week in Paris for two days of intensive work, reviewing their 2016 programmes to help the poor and the sick in five continents, and planning for the coming year.
The President of the Order’s French Association, Thierry Beaumont-Beynac and the French Hospitaller, Yann Baggio, who hosted the occasion, welcomed 75 participants. The meeting was chaired by the Grand Hospitaller of the Order, Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel. He invited the Hospitallers, who represented 32 Order organisations and as many nationalities, to share the knowledge and experience gained in their own sectors, so that all could benefit. Also in attendance were the Grand Chancellor of the Order, Albrecht Boeselager, and Mons. Jean Laffitte, the Order’s Prelate.
Key themes centred around the Order of Malta’s support for refugees and migrants – from the country of origin, along the route to a new life, and in the host country on arrival. In Lebanon, the arrivals from Syria make up almost a third of the population. The Order’s Lebanese Association, together with the international relief service of the Order, are providing as much support as possible – including shelter, medical and psycho-social care – in a country which already has many resource problems.
A key initiative for the Order’s organisations in Europe is the implementation of integration programmes for refugees, in particular in Austria, France and Germany. The integration programmes provide refugees with basic medical care, language courses, after school support for children and help obtaining the appropriate papers to remain in their host countries. The largest minority population in Europe is the Roma, or gypsies, for whom the Order of Malta has appointed an Ambassador at Large who is working with local Order organisations in a number of countries to assist with their integration into their local communities: special programmes are already underway in Hungary, Romania, Albania and Slovakia.
Homelessness remains of great concern across the region and many Order organisations reported on the growth in the number of homeless people attending their day-care homes and soup kitchens in, for example, Belgium, Britain, Spain, France, Switzerland and Russia.
On the other side of the world, the Order’s members in the United States are focussing on prison ministry, giving support to those in prison, to their families, and to life after incarceration ends, providing social and psychological support and helping them resume their lives in society; services which are not provided by the state. The programme runs in 36 US States.