After the three-year break caused by the pandemic, the Order of Malta’s 37th International Summer Camp for Disabled Youths was held from July 30th to August 6th, near the city of Rome. It’s an event that has been held every summer for almost forty years in a different country.
After a short break we had a Bulgarian group again consisting of two youths with disabilities from the Center for Housing of disabled youth in the city of Dupnitsa – Vasil Panayotov and Isus Tsetsov, accompanied by their director Krasimira Alexandrova, the Embassy’s consultant for social projects Gergana Bogdanova and the group leader Francesca Scorza. The Bulgarian group spent a week in an international environment, met many new friends and touched the incredible spirit of Maltacamp. During the opening liturgy, our representatives were joined by the leadership of the Order of Malta represented by the Lieutenant of the Grand Master Fra’ John T. Dunlap, the Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager and the Grand Hospitaller Dominique de la Rochefoucauld. A prayer in Bulgarian was also read at this service. During the camp many games and experiences, specially designed for people with disabilities, were organised. The Bulgarian participants were also impressed by the attention and hope that this spirit will gradually reach Bulgaria.
A special moment for everyone was the solemn liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, celebrated by Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, where the group has been greeted by the Bulgarian ambassador to the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta, Mr. Bogdan Patashev and his wife Leda Patasheva. Ambassador Patashev gave a short tour of the Basilica for the participants and shared interesting details of the history of this masterpiece of world cultural heritage. Part of the Maltacamp program was also an evening for presenting traditional products such as: lukanka, Elena fillet, lutenitsa and rose-flavored Turkish delight. The group also visited ancient Rome, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, tried pizza and Italian ice cream. Christopher’s victory, shared with the Slovakian group, in the game of cricket proved to be an important moment. During all these days, the Bulgarian flag flew proudly alongside the flags of 22 other countries for this joyous gathering of 450 participants.