Fondazzjoni Nazareth and the Deaf People Association Malta are the winners of the Mons. Mikiel Azzopardi Awards for 2021 and 2022. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the presentation ceremony did not take place.
The winners were announced by Fr Martin Micallef, Director of Id-Dar tal-Providenza, during a Vocal and Instrumental Concert by the Band of the Armed Forces of Malta with the distinct patronage of H.G. The Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and under the direction of its musical director, Captain Jonathan Borg and presented by Pio Dalli. The well attended concert took place on Friday, 2nd December 2022 at the St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Mdina in aid of the Siġġiewi Home on the occasion of the International Day for Persons with Disability that is celebrated December 3rd. The concert, that took place courtesy of the Metropolitan Chapter and with the cooperation of the Archpriest and the administration of the Cathedral, was attended by the Commanding Officer of the Armed Forces of Malta, Brigadier Clinton O’Neill and officers of the Armed Forces together with other distinguished guests.
Fr Martin said that the commitment for the realisation of the rights of persons with disability are not just a question of justice but also an investment in the common future. Because of the pandemic, the last two years were particular years for everyone and no less Id-Dar tal-Providenza. But notwithstanding, the Home remained committed to continue improving further on the quality of life of its residents and the services it offers. This year Prof. Tony Osgood, an expert in the disability sector, gave intensive training to all the Home’s support workers. Fr Martin said:”this training had the sole aim of improving on the quality of the services offered. With Prof. Osgood and other Maltese experts in the disability sector we were given advice that can help us in the strategy that we are planning for the next 15 years.”
Fondazzjoni Nazareth was the brain child of Fr Anġ Seychell set up officially on the 8th September 1995, when together with his siblings they donated their home which was to be the predecessor of other small community homes. At that time the home, where Dun Anġ lived and still does, welcomed the first four residents. The idea behind the Foundation was well received so much so that the residents of Dar Nazareth swelled to ten and another two homes were added that now house thirty persons with different intellectual and physical needs.
The Mons Mikiel Azzopardi Award was presented to the President Emeritus, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Chairman of the board of Fonazzjoni Nazareth by H.G. the Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna.
The Deaf People Association Malta was set up in 1972 and this year it is commemorating the 50th anniversary of its foundation. This was the first voluntary organisation for the deaf in Malta. Ten years later, in 1982, a club for deaf people was also set up and served so that these individuals could be part of a community.
Since the opening of the club the deaf community continued growing because it had a secure place where they could meet informally, take part in organised activities and make more use of the Maltese Sign Language. The Organisation was instrumental in having the Maltese Sign Language recognised by the Maltese Parliament as an official language as well in improving the interpretation services.
The Archbishop presented the Mons Mikiel Azzopardi Award 2022 to the President of the Deaf People Association Malta, Ms Annabelle Xerri.
In his closing speech, the Archbishop spoke about the prayer of the National Anthem penned by our national poet Dun Karm Psaila with music by Robert Samut. He said that in the first two verses, Dun Karm in his genius, expressed the significance of our country’s name and made a prayer out of them and dubbed our country as our Motherland so dear and whose name we bear.
The Archbishop said that Dun Karm’s prayer is also his wish that whilst celebrating the International Day for Persons with Disability, the Maltese society remains a society that shows compassion towards and provides security to these brothers and sisters, that our country continues to embrace life with all its diversities and appreciates all lives from the moment of conception till end are a gift.
Archbishop Scicluna said that like Dun Karm in his prayer we too will pray to God to provide wisdom to those with the tremendous responsibility to take the necessary decisions that need taking and ended by wishing to all that this Christmas will really have something to celebrate.
The well attended concert included musical works by Beethoven, Elgar, Pietro Yon, Alan Silvestri as well as Maltese composers Ray Sciberras, Antoine Mercieca and Lawrence Scicluna. Solosts were Staff Sergeant Dominic Scerri on the clarinet, Bdr. Joseph Grech on the tubular bells and tenor Bdr. Georg Zammit.
The Mons Mikiel Azzopradi Award, that was launched in 1955, is given every year in recognition of the voluntary contribution by persons in the disability sector in Malta and Gozo as well as persons and entities that help Id-Dar tal-Providenza in its work.