Two Maltese professionals, Maria Attard and Matthew Bartolo, experts in adolescent and youth issues, visited our area in the rain forest of Izabal during 10 days. During their visit we managed to organize various seminars with different sectors of our town in Puerto Barrios.
The seminars were delivered to:
1. Priests from Vicariate of Izabal;
2. 40 different local NGO’s who work with child and adolescent protection (110 people participated);
3. 120 school directors and guidance teachers from different schools from Puerto Barrios;
4. 60 Catechists from Santo Hermano Parish;
5. 40 medical staff from the Hospital Infantil (Children Hospital) of Puerto Barrios.
A visiting clinical psychologist, Selmy Licardi, (she visited Malta last year through a scholarship with GuateMalta Foundation) who works in child protection in Guatemala city described what work is done in child protection in Guatemala. She put special emphasis on the importance of working with all the family for real change to happen.
Maria Attard, the founder of Dar Ġużeppa Debono in Gozo, described her work with teenage mothers for the past 32 years. She explained how important it is to accompany and support the teenage mother the moment she knows she’s pregnant. That’s when she makes decisions and choices.
Matthew Bartolo, a sex therapist, talked about the importance of talking about sex, sexuality and relationships with one’s clients and children. He emphasized the responsibility and authority of the people present in breaking this taboo but making sure that they themselves are comfortable talking about the subject.
Every seminar was completed by a discussion between all those present. Cases and real life struggles were discussed and facilitated by Matthew, translated and supported by Selmy and Kathya Junieth who is a helper in our parish. All events were funded through the program Medical Missions in Guatemala.