Anġela Agius has been presented with this year’s Premju Dun Mikiel Azzopardi.
Ms Agius shared her 50th birthday this year with Dar tal-Providenza, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. This organisation helped Ms Agius take some of the most important steps to become what she is today. She found people that believed in her potential, in her dream and more importantly in the importance of her independence.
She is hard of hearing and uses lip reading and sign language to communicate. She started living at St Vincent de Paul when she was 9 years old. Mgr Mikiel Azzopardi started visiting venues that housed persons with different disabilities, and he’d often meet Anġela and communicate with her. At the age of 11, Mgr Azzopardi welcomed her to Dar tal-Providenza with the other first few residents.
Dun Mikiel had the courage to commence Dar tal-Providenza, which not only offered long and short term residences to various individuals, but also contributed towards a Maltese society that started to have a more positive attitude towards persons with disability. From voiceless people hidden in cellars, they now live in the heart of our communities and participate in all walks of life.
Anġela continued to attend school until she was 16, and later attended the Ability Centre, which she refers to as therapy. Here she learned to sew and work in pottery. Her delicate crochet work proves her outstanding ability in using her hands.
Her work experience at the National Commission Persons with Disability (KNPD) helped her learn new things as well as meet new friends. During her employment with the Commission, she went abroad twice on EU projects that focused on the importance of sports for the quality of life for persons with disability. She also went to Euro Disneyland and has also had an audience with the Pope in Rome this year. The socialising aspect is an essential factor in Anġela’s life.
Image: Armed Forces of Malta band and the De La Salle College’s choir.
Anġela achieved her independence on the 29th June in 2011, when she started living on her own in an apartment she bought through the Shared Ownership Scheme of the Housing Authority.
Her award was announced by Fr Martin Micallef, director of Dar tal-Providenza, during a concert by the Armed Forces of Malta at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta during the International Week of Persons with Disabilities.
The presentation was held under the patronage of H.E. Mrs Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who was represented by her husband Mr Edgar Preca and H.G. the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr Charles J. Scicluna. In a short address, the Archbishop thanked Anġela, whose presence was something beautiful. He added that all those present at St John’s Co-Cathedral were there to witness the gospel of life that says each and every person has a value. Mr Oliver Scicluna, chairperson of the National Commision Persons with Disability (KNPD) was also one of the speakers.
The Dun Mikiel Award is given every year by Dar tal-Providenza in recognition of the voluntary contribution of individuals involved with persons with disability in Malta and Gozo. This award was first given out twenty years ago to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the home.
The concert was organised by RTK4Charity and Dar tal-Providenza, courtesy of the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation.