On the 18th of June the Provisional Grand Master of Valencia, RWBro Michael Shilan, gave up some of his valuable time to visit El Preventorio children’s home in Real de Gandia. He has been trying to visit for some time but always something has prevented him from doing so. He was determined to make the visit with his lovely wife Muriel despite flying to Italy early the following day. Both the Provincial Grand Lodge of Valencia and various individual Lodges have supported the home for many years, most recently, by contributing towards the provision of new beds and mattresses for all the children.
He was greeted, on arrival at the home, by Mrs Silvia Barnish, who has acted as liaison and translator for many previous Masonic visits and spends a large proportion of her life helping and supporting the home. Mrs Barnish then took the Provincial Grand Master on a tour of both the home and the adjacent school. He was very impressed by both. He first visited the school and was impressed by the facilities provided, many via charitable donations and with the help of many volunteers.
He then toured the home and was impressed by the cleanliness and good order seen. The children are generally responsible for keeping the place clean and tidy and obviously do a very good job. He saw the dormitories which are generally divided into rooms each containing three beds. Any children with siblings are usually placed together where possible and older children generally get a room to themselves. He then visited a quiet area which is especially prepared for lonely or sad children who want to speak to someone but often don’t know how to do so. In this case they can go to the quiet area and use a toy phone to speak to one of the adult carers or a teacher. They then sometimes feel able to speak more freely than face to face. There is also a special cuddly toy which they can hold should they need a hug or some special comforting. In this case an adult will go and sit quietly with the children and hopefully calm them down and offer some comfort.
Unfortunately, because of his early departure tomorrow the Provincial Grand Master was unable to stay for the excellent paella lunch provided which was followed by birthday cake to celebrate this weeks birthdays and some very nice looking iced cup cakes which disappeared as if by magic. But, before his departure, he said that although it was very sad that such a home was necessary, the children concerned were lucky to be at this one. The love and care shown by the volunteers and carers was obvious and it was also plain to see that they were, in turn, loved by the children.
He also thanked Mrs Barnish for giving up her time to show him around and said that he was grateful for finally being able to visit the home and see for himself how it was run and how the children were looked after. He found it a very useful and interesting visit and said he would like to return as and when possible. His next visit will be to meet the children in Alicante in July when many of them will be sponsored by the Masons for a ten day summer school.