Turn Off!! Reach Out!!

Turn Off!! Reach Out!!
Youth Exchange held in Birgu between 22 and 29 November, 2013
We have just concluded the youth exchange ''Turn Off!! Reach Out!!', which involved 13 young participants coming from the small town of Belvi in Sardinia, Italy and 13 youths from Birgu. They took part in a variety of activities which were held in the 3 main cities of the Maltese Islands - Birgu, Mdina and Valletta.
The project which is part ofAction 1.1. of the European Union Programme ''Youth in Action'' and which had a duration of six days , was established with the following objectives:
- promote sports;
- develop active citizenship among young people;
- raise awareness among young people on the need for a more inclusive society.
The first day was dedicated to the presentation of the project and the Youth in Action Programme and distribution of the Welcome Kit, which contained information about the city of Birgu, Malta and the programme of activities.
The next day we presented the two entities, the City of Belvì and the City of Birgu. The  participants later took part in a treasure hunt which took them to the main monuments of Birgu: the churches of St Lawrence and the Annunciation, the Norman house, the Inquisitor's Palace, built in 1530 following the arrival of the Knights of Malta and subsequently used as the civil court of the Order of St. John, and the Maritime Museum, which houses a collection of artefacts inadvertently tied to the sea.
The third morning was dedicated to volunteering: young people have taken part in a charity marathon organized by an NGO that works with children with disabilities, the Centru Vincent Bugeja. In the afternoon the participants have set up the hall of the prestigious building of the Auberge de France, which is also the seat of the administrative offices of the Birgu Local Council. They prepared the Sala Nobile, for the multicultural event which was held on the same evening and attended by youths, participants of the project CO-TO-GEN, held​​in Belvì last December under the European Union programme Europe for Citizens, the local community and guests from Denmark and the Netherlands.
On the fourth day , the group visited the offices of MEUSAC (Malta EU Steering and Action Committee), the government organization that provides advice, information and support to institutions and local organizations in the field of Community policies, as well as Europe House, the headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament in Valletta. On this occasion the young people has been given information about the new Erasmus Plus and they discussed European citizenship: young people have made ​​a series of proposals to be implemented in their common aim of promoting European citizenship and awareness of the opportunities offered by the EU.
On November 26, the youth met five female volunteers, whoare participating in an EVS (European Voluntary Service) from Germany, Portugal and Spain.Afterwards,the group paid a visit to a nursing home for the elderly, talking and playing bingo with the residents and helping the volunteers to perform various tasks.
In the afternoon they met a Sudanese refugee and an Eritrean boy forced to leave their country and beneficiaries of international protection. The young Eritrean told his story and his journey that led him from Eritrea to Sudan and then to Libya and, finally, to Malta, where he is waiting for a transfer ('resettlement') in the United States.
The meeting ended with the playing of bongos: young people have played the bongo drums and danced along with the two young Africans.
The following day was dedicated to sports and the promotion of healthy behaviours. The participants have played some sports activities (aerobics, zumba and football) at the Cottonera Sports Complex. In the afternoon they visited Mdina, the Silent City, where they also played various Maltese Traditional Games.
During the penultimate day,we did a summary of the project together with all young people, the organizers, Ms Moira Azzopardi for the Birgu Local Council and Ms Claudia Sedda for the Belvi Local Council and the Mayor of Birgu, Mr John Boxall, who all have expressed their satisfaction with the performance of activities and thanked the towns of Birgu and Belvì for the great opportunity offered them.
Young people have also produced a leaflet aimed at the promotion of European citizenship in their respective areas.
Young people have also visited the War Museum, as tribute to the lives sacrificed during the Second World War and the shelters where the inhabitants of Birgu and nearby cities took refuge during the air raids.
A Youthpass was given to each of the participating youths, a certificate which is entitled to the participants in a project funded under the Youth in Action program which describes what they have learned during the project activities.
The City of Birgu hopes that the wonderful relationship established between the two administrations, and especially the two communities will continue in the futureand be further strengthened.
The relations between the two communities began in April 2012, with the visit of a delegationfrom Birgu. On December 14, the two Mayors, John Boxall and Rinaldo Arangino, have signed the twinning oath.
In May 2013 seven Birgu youths took part in the youth exchange ''Open the Door, held in Belvì and attended by a total of 35 young people from Malta, Sardinia, Romania, Greece and Turkey.
Last October, in addition, a delegation of about 20 Belviese, visited the community of Birgu during the Birgufest event and the Birgu By Candlelight activity.