Bethlehem. Volunteers at Hogar Niño Dios during the pandemic

Giacomo Pizzi28 August 2020

In these months of emergency for the COVID- 19 pandemic, two volunteers, Anna Carraro and Umberto Manganiello, in Civilian Service with Consorzio Icaro di Foggia and Association Pro Terra Sancta, continue to serve alongside the young children of Casa Hogar Niño Dios. The Hogar Niño Dios is a structure that has been welcoming children with psycho-physical disabilities since 2005, offering rehabilitation and educational activities thanks to the commitment of the sisters of the Institute Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word. Association Pro Terra Sancta has for years been supporting the educational and scholastic path of some of the children from the House, at the same time giving the possibility to a number of volunteers to have experience of daily service in support of the structure itself.

Anna, a developmental age neuropsychomotor therapist, tells us what motivated her to undertake this experience: “As soon as I graduated from the University of Turin, I felt a push to dedicate my time and my professionalism to Bethlehem. So I chose a Civilian Service project that would allow me to put into practice the skills I had learned in motor rehabilitation with children having disabilities“. 

Anna tells us that the Hogar usually had many volunteers from all over the world who helped in the different needs of the house. “With the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, sisters and workers found themselves in serious difficulty and so, coordinated by Pro Terra Sancta, we tried to meet the daily needs of the house and the children. We helped in the kitchen to prepare lunch, in the laundry room and in the animation activities. I am also currently supporting the Hogar Niño Dios team of physiotherapists in rehabilitation activities.”

Umberto Manganiello tells us that a few months before leaving for Bethlehem with the Consorzio Icaro di Foggia he had graduated in Law from the University of Naples Federico II. “While this aspect may not seem strictly pertinent to the service I am performing – Umberto explains – in reality I find it interesting to put to use in this context the concepts I have learned and made my own, relating to the rights of peoples and communities, of individuals and children.”

Since June, with the exponential increase of cases in the Holy Land, concern for the social realities in Bethlehem such as the Hogar Niño Dios has increased. It is a beautiful testimony to see young people engaged with courage and passion alongside the little ones, together with those works that carry the human message of Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, especially during this difficult time.

Experiences that mark the growth of young people who every year with the Civilian Service program dedicate their time and their professionalism to Bethlehem. This is why Anna is learning “to smile and derive happiness from little things like the smile of a child. When you see a child who is waiting for you, and when he sees you he embraces you and communicates his joy to have you there, it fills your heart and you hope to be able to do and receive good things for a long time to come.” And Umberto begins to know a part of himself, and of the people he meets. “To go beyond the suffering that is so apparent in order to really get to know the children of the Hogar. It is extraordinary to see how willing they are to give of themselves in our daily relationship. I am discovering aspects of myself that I would not have presumed, I cannot help but realize that what these children give me, after all, is far more precious than any service that I am in a position to render to them.”