For almost 18 months a group of fantastic Depaul young men and women worked together, alongside Depaul UK’s ‘Your Chance’ staff in the North West, to plan, fundraise and finally travel to Slovakia to volunteer at Depaul Slovakia’s St Vincent’s Night Shelter. Eight keen and committed young people set about fundraising for money through every kind of imaginative event such as face painting, cake sales, sponsored runs and boxing. The entire trip was funded by them through fundraised money.
An overseas trip like this has never been offered to Depaul UK clients before; however it made complete sense as it allowed the young people to learn more about the history of Depaul and how homelessness impacts in other parts of the world. This was highlighted beautifully by Imelda: “No one is turned away; Depaul Slovakia really is a values driven place. Very inspiring and completely humbling.”
Finally, the planning and preparation was at an end and it was time for the real journey; on the 26th April, the Bratislavan adventure began with a guided tour of the interesting projects run by Depaul Slovakia, with their fabulous host Mariana. The visits were summed up nicely by Nathan:
“Visiting the homeless shelter really opened my eyes to a different way of life. They have little funds and it’s truly inspirational to see how much they can do with so little, or even use the building that in our country would go to waste.”
The week was split between tackling a mountain of donated clothes in the Depaul Night Shelter, sorting 7 tonnes of clothing into useful categories, as well as some time sightseeing and hiking in the striking Slovakian hills. Our young ambassadors worked incredibly hard and completed way more than expected by their hosts.
The group was aware that Depaul Slovakia was keen to gather funds to purchase a mini-bus to support the elderly and ill homeless people to ensure they made it to the night shelter, which is a considerable walk from the bus stop. This information really inspired the young people to do their best to raise additional funds to give to Depaul Slovakia. At the end of the trip they were able to present Nina and her staff team with a cheque for £1000.
Eight young people stepped out of their comfort zone and boarded the flight to Slovakia with their hearts and minds open to adventure. They returned having developed a whole new level of confidence and their hearts and minds filled with memories and hopes for the future.
After the trip, on the 25th July, Mark McGreevy (Group Chief Exec of Depaul International) travelled to Manchester to present our Young International Ambassadors with medals to recognise their efforts and achievements. This was a wonderful opportunity for the group to reminisce and reflect on the truly life enhancing experience they had embarked on.