In the Dar Frate Jacoba in Marsaskala, two children are receiving the teaching of farming skills involving a sheep that has just given birth to lambs and is feeding them. Fr Ray Scicluna, who has been managing the home that hosts eight children that reside there aged between 10 and 17 and are being given teaching on practical skills in a free environment such as gardens and fields, surrounded by animals.
Fr Ray explained the children also take care of the kitchen with the help of tutors. A unique concept in the home is that besides the three employees on a full-time basis there are also three lay persons and the priest who reside in the home to help the children on a 24 hour basis.
One of these is Nadia Caruana who said they are like a family and besides schooling they are also taught skills to be used in life.
Fr Ray said the children come from institutes or from living in a in a difficult environment.
He said that most have been expelled from schools and it was necessary to help solve their educational problems and to seek alternative problems to help them.
The children are taught various subjects, including farming, with one child being responsible for the growing of vegetables that are then used in the kitchen, as well as trade skills such as carpentry, welding and engineering. Every year the children spend a month in the Youth Alive Foundation Home in Sicily where among the mountains they continue their educational programme.
Fr Ray said it is his main pleasure to see the children then leave the home without needing medicines and finding employment that is to their satisfaction.
He said giving up would mean the children losing out and the concept has to be not what one is but what one may aspire to.
Fr Ray said the best ingredient in the home is the Franciscan spirit and its alliance to nature and love.