2018 marks 42 years of service of the Order of Malta’s Portuguese volunteer Corps to the pilgrims travelling on foot towards the Shrine of Fatima, in Portugal. This year the pilgrimage started on 6 May and will finish on 12 May.
The assistance service is provided in various locations along the route, where pilgrims can rest, have some water and food, and receive medical and spiritual assistance. Those in need of further assistance are referred to a mobile pharmacy where doctors provide medical support.
Throughout the pilgrimage, some 200 volunteers are deployed along the route, including 8 doctors, 50 nurses and 60 rescue experts.
Annually some 6,000 pilgrims are assisted and treated. Overall, since the very first pilgrimage organized by the Volunteer Corps of the Portuguese association of the Order of Malta in 1976, nearly 200,000 people have been treated. The preparation for the assistance programme, including first-aid training for new volunteers, starts seven months earlier.