This year’s Dun Mikiel Azzopardi Award went to Adelina and Marcel Pisani, parents of Andrew born in 1971, Matthew in 1975 and Paul in 1979. Andrew, who died in 1997, and Paul were both born with an intellectual disability. Notwithstanding the hurt and doubts that this situation brought into their lives, not only did they not give up but with the help of God they courageously decided to fight on to see that their children enjoy a better life and then to provide support to hundreds of families who found themselves in the same predicament. (Full biography attached)
This was announced by Fr Martin Micallef, Director of Id-Dar tal-Providenza, during a concert that took place at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul in Mdina, by the Band of the Armed Forces of Malta to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disability with the theme: “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all.” It aims to create more awareness of persons with disability, their dignity, their rights and their wellbeing. This International Day also encourages more awareness of the advantages that society can benefit from the inclusion of persons with disability in all aspects of life, be it political, social, economical, cultural as well as religious.
Fr Martin said that throughout the world today around a billion person or 15% of the world population live with some form of disability. Unfortunately, too many of these persons, even in Malta, have to face obstacles that are physical, social as well as economic. Negative attitudes towards them exclude them from participating wholly and effectively as equal members of society.
Id-Dar tal-Providenza gives out the Premju Dun Mikiel Azzopardi every year in recognition and appreciation of voluntary work done with persons with disability in Malta and Gozo. The Award was launched eighteen years ago to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Id-Dar tal-Providenza in Siggiewi. (A list of previous winners of past editions is attached for easy reference)
The Concert and the Awarding of the Premju Dun Mikiel Azzopardi were held under the distinguished patronage of H.E. the President of the Republic, Dr George Abela and H.E. the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr. Pawl Cremona OP. In a short speech for the occasion, Dr Abela said that whilst it was only recently that the world has started to give recognition to the dignity and rights of persons with disability especially in 2007 through the United Nations Convention for the rights of persons with disability, fifty years ago our visionary Dun Mikiel Azzopardi has started to pave the way we are in now. Mr Joe Camilleri, Chairperson of the National Commission Persons with Disability, made special reference to those who contributed towards the emancipation of persons with disability; namely the parents, teachers in schools and the various professions. He highlighted the immense progress that has been made in Malta so that persons with disability take their rightful place in society. Archbishop Cremona, who also presented the Pisani couple with this year’s Dun Mikiel Azzopardi Award, said that as once Dun Mikiel had told him these persons deserve nothing but the best.
The audience that packed the Metropolitan Cathedral was in for a great performance by the Band of the Armed Forces of Malta, under the baton of Mro. Capt. John Ivan Borg, that performed various musical excerpts by Miklos Rosza, Mozart, Handel, Massenet and Mgr Marco Frisina with excellent renderings by soprano Rosabelle Bianchi. There were also works by Maltese composers SSgt Raymond Zammit and Gunner Peter Cini, who form part of the AFM Band.
The Concert was organised by RTK4Charity with the collaboration of the Armed Forces of Malta Band and the co-operation of the Metropolitan Chapter.