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My name is Martha Brown, I’m 32 and I come from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, although I was living in London and working in a cafe before I started my 1 month’s EVS in Malta.



I previously did a 2 month EVS project in Macedonia in 2012, so I already know how good the scheme was, so when the opportunity to volunteer at a cat sanctuary in Malta came up, I thought, “Why not?”. It seemed like a good chance to try another type of work, whilst learning about another country and culture, as I didn’t know much about Malta, a small island south of Italy and north of Libya. Our flight landing in Malta was very rough and bumpy but I was entertained by the maltese passengers’ response to this, which was to cheer, applaud and laugh, and I took this as a promising sign for my time in Malta. The large nativity scene outside the airport gave another clue to Malta, which our host Carmel clarified by explaining that Malta is a catholic country (officially only 5% of its inhabitants aren’t catholic). He also pointed out the unusual maltese practice of putting Christmas decorations on all their roundabouts during our journey to our accommodation and said that there are 365 churches in Malta (1 for each day of the year he joked). We (I’ve come here with 2 other english women) are staying in a hotel in Paceville, a small town that is the nightclub central of Malta, (aimed towards tourists). We share 2 rooms, 1 of which includes a kitchen area and dining area. It’s fairly basic but nice enough. We’re lucky because Carmel, who is the president of Tomiseera National Cat Society (the charity I’m doing my month’s voluntary work at) gives us a lift to the cat sanctuary most days. On our first day he treated us to a maltese breakfast of cheesecake, which turned out to be more like a cheese pasty. They’re a convenient and tasty snack, which along with the pea pasties, are very cheap from most cafes, particularly the local snack bars. We mostly cook our own food, to keep within our budget but, I’m looking forward to treating myself to a maltese meal 1 day before I leave.


The sanctuary is run by the lovely Carmel and Jane along with a few other dedicated volunteers. I was nervous about working at the cat sanctuary as I don’t really like groups of cats, (but I love 1 cat on its own) so I found my first few days very challenging working with about 350 cats! On the first day we were introduced to the cats, the building and the volunteer’s daily routine, which consists of: checking the cats are ok; cleaning the cages of the sick cats; cleaning the communal areas inside the building and in the garden area, (the majority of the cats live in these areas); feeding the cats; and giving the sick cats their medication. Inside my tummy twisted and wrenched from feelings of fear, horror and disgust at the strong smell, being in a small building with so many cats and seeing the ones that were so ill. I managed to push through these feelings though and made myself act calmly and positively towards the cats and I tried to give them equal love and attention whilst I helped to clean up all their mess. I was relieved on my 2nd day at the sanctuary to find I felt much more relaxed and at ease being with all the cats, and this keeps on improving, though I do sometimes dread doing another day’s work of cleaning up so much poo! The maltese people I’ve met so far have been lovely – friendly and welcoming in a very gentle and relaxed way. Most people speak fluent english and I love hearing their lilting, lyrical accents, which sound a bit like the welsh accent. Eight days in, I’m looking forward to exploring more of the island and seeing how my skills improve working at the cat sanctuary.


Project part of YOUth In Europe

and supported by the British Council

and the Youth In Action programme

of the European Commission.



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