Prior to 1985, a need to find a decent dwelling to unmarried mothers who sought refuge in Gozo was being continually asked for. The Church in Gozo, was faced with this reality and the person in charge, Fr.Manwel Curmi went to different communities asking for help. He also asked the community of which I was a member and at first it seemed to be ingenious to carry the responsibility of such a service since the community had other internal needs to look up to. There was another possibility that a member can take over if she feels that this is her call.
While this was going on I continually experienced the need to follow teenagers who had some problem in relationships or at home. Many a time parents came to talk to me about the progress of their daughters at school and about their relationships. At time I could tell that the student needed some time to reflect or to stay a little bit away to get focused again so I saw an ideal situation to give a service not only to these unmarried mothers but also to these teenagers who most of them were in the danger of getting themselves in the same situation. So after praying and consulting myself I gave my 'yes' well aware of what this entails.
The agreement was signed in September and the home was blessed and opened on the 8th of December 1985 by His Excellency Nicholas G. Cauchi Bishop of Gozo. It was a memorable day. We worked hard to get the home ready for that day. When we first walked in it was deserted and needed fixing .The joy of the day was over and we set to work. We were three volunteers working in the home and we did this work following our career. Our timetable fitted well with the needs of the home and the needs of the girls.
During the Christmas holidays I went to Italy where I visited a home which was run on the same criteria and a pro life center. As from the very beginning we had a group of volunteers who organized fund raising activities such as courses in lace making, cookery, Bazaars etc.
The first girl came in the 6th of January 1986 and since then the service had never stopped. A programme was set up according to the needs of the girls present in the home. It makes a big difference if the girl is still a student or if she still works. We cared for the individual needs of our guests. Their stay in the home could be from six months to a week or day depending on what the mother is looking for, if a residence, a quiet moment or getting away for rest.
We tried as much as possible to create a home atmosphere, cooking together, enjoying a game, a T.V. program together, going to the beach in summer etc. We laughed and cried together and faced problems, which at times were very breath-taking. The most unforgettable, joyful moment would be when the baby is due. Seeing the birth of a child is an experience beyond description, you see what was unseen but longed for to be seen, touched, held and loved. You start seeing the eyes you imagined, the face, the hair if any, the wriggling little feet. I always fall in adoration whenever I am present at birth and thank God for the miracle of life.
The passing years revealed another important issue to be considered. The home was rather small, we needed more space, better facilities and more privacy. As we considered the home a meeting point for the girls and for other awareness projects a hall was an important asset. So in 1993 we started projecting for an extension and restructuring of the home. We were faced with a capital problem - money. In the meantime lurking in my mind was the idea of organising something particular which would give us quite a good income and at the same time promoting the home and its mission. So the idea of Christmas in August was conceived and with the help of my family many volunteers and the management of l-Imgarr Bay Hotel this became an annual August event since 1992. The people used to flock for it and they still beg us to do it. Though it was a very demanding enterprise yet it gave us a lot of satisfaction and quite a good income to keep going with our plans.
On the 13th May 1997 we received the news that the extension can be constructed and that same summer the work on the site was begun. This and the reconstruction of the old section took two years to finish. At the same time the service was still available though in certain areas was reduced.
Now we are in a position to give a better service and to move to new projects. The home offers a residence if needed. Though the demand has decreased yet it is still available.
My vision for the future is that the home still works on voluntary basis though certain services have to be paid. That a homely atmosphere is continually maintained. It is my vision also, that the home will be available to mothers from different countries and that we work with other agencies both local and foreign. More promotion needs to be given to the home. Other areas which the home can cater for on ground ,simple, basic information is the area of sexuality, bioethics and the value of the great gift of life.
As I look back my heart and soul become flooded with sentiments of gratitude to My Lord and Master, Jesus who always was my inspiration, my guide and my stronghold. His Incarnation in the womb of Mary is an icon which is continually contemplated and which help me realize that God is as close and present as a child in his mother's womb.
- Maria Attard
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