Integration through immersion: A trip to Gozo for people assisted by MOAS in Malta
In a first for MOAS, we organised a trip for a small group of young asylum seekers from countries including Somalia, Chad, and South Sudan to Gozo and Comino for a recreational excursion. The trip was initiated in conjunction with MOAS’ work to assist and provide social support to migrants in Malta. The intention of the trip in its simplest form was to give the young boys that came a fun, relaxing and peaceful day out, and a short break away from the stresses of their everyday lives. Yet, through organising this trip, we also wanted to give them a chance to see, discover, experience, and learn more about the Maltese archipelago and its history and culture, in order to stimulate their integration in the country.
The trip began at the Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal where the group met bright and early on a Sunday morning, ready to catch the ferry to Gozo for the day of exploration. After safely boarding the vessel, spirits were immediately lifted as the ferry took off from the port and began the short journey across the Gozo Channel. During the crossing, the group looked on in excitement as Gozo appeared closer and closer, whilst they also got a glimpse of Comino and the Blue Lagoon, of which they would get a closer look at later in the day.
We arrived at the port of Mgarr, Gozo, just before 10am, when we met our guide for the day. From Mgarr, we headed inland to the capital Victoria (also known as Rabat) in the centre of the island to experience some of Malta’s most famous cuisine and learn more about the country’s rich history. The first stop in Victoria was a pastizzi shop to sample some of Malta’s most cherished pastry snack filled with ricotta (pastizzi tal-irkotta) or curried peas (pastizzi tal-piżelli). Having had our late morning treat, we then headed to the capital’s ancient Citadel. The group wandered around the fortress, taking in the views of the expanse of Gozo and the cathedral’s beautiful architecture, all while expressing their inquisitiveness about its history, demonstrating their desire to learn more about the country they now live in.
The group then headed to the west part of Gozo to Dwejra. Following a leisurely coffee stop, we took a stroll to the Inland Sea. Cameras came out very quickly, as the group displayed their astonishment at the natural wonder, which is a lagoon of seawater linked to the Mediterranean Sea through an opening formed by a narrow natural arch.
From Dwejra, we went to the opposite side of the island to explore the caves at Tal-Mixta and gaze at the magnificent red sands of Ramla Beach. After getting a peak of the bay from the caves, we headed down to the hill to the popular beach. Smiles were beaming amongst the group as they relaxed, swam, and played games. Following the enjoyment of Ramla Beach, we then ate a late lunch at a restaurant in the town of Marsalforn for our final stop in Gozo, where we once again sampled some traditional Maltese food. This time our exploration into the cuisine included Maltese baked rice (ross fil-forn), which went down very well among the group.
We then took the bus back to the port at Mgarr where we boarded a small boat that carried us to the island of Comino. After disembarking, the group went on a walk across the island until we reached the awe-inspiring, sheltered inlet known as the Blue Lagoon. This was most certainly the part of the trip where the most photos were taken, as everyone in the group expressed their joy as they looked out over the shimmering clear water blanketing the white sand beneath. The Blue Lagoon is a firm favourite of visitors to the country, and it quickly became the group’s favourite destination of the day too. Given the spectacular scenery of Comino, it was difficult to leave but we then got back on the ferry to head over to the mainland to conclude our fantastic day.
As we made our way back across the channel, it gave the boys an opportunity to reflect on the day and how much they enjoyed it. Here are some of their thoughts:
“It was a really good day. It was very relaxing, and the Blue Lagoon was so beautiful.”
“I had a great time in Gozo. Can we go again next weekend?!”
MOAS is constantly striving to assist migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Malta through various forms of support and initiatives. We are very pleased that this trip was successful and enjoyed by all. With this trip and our other forms of support, such as hospital visits, donations of goodies, and educational projects, we hope to express solidarity, promote integration and bring moments of joy whenever can. We look forward to more excursions like this in the future.
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