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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Akwarell Speech: A Message on Independence, Hope and Thanksgiving



Opening Statements

A photo of me taken by one of my brothers, Daniel,  during the inaugaration of Akwarell.

Welcome your excellencies, members of parliament, distinguished guests, family and friends and all those of you who came to celebrate this occasion.

An occasion so important in my life and in the life of my other friends who will be joining me in this new experience...

Today, we are here to celebrate the official opening of our new home, Akwarell*.

To mark this occasion, I wish to share some of my thoughts about what this means to me.

About Community...


At present, Akwarell is just a building. But, I hope, together with my friends, we will turn this building into a home, in the best senses of the word. I think that the name we have chosen for this house: 'Akwarell', expresses how we want this home to be a place to express who we are both as individuals and as a community.

Indeed, in the same way an artist would paint the akwarel, we hope this building will serve us to express our best colours but, at the same time, create something that we could only create with one another. A community of friends.

About independence


However, what Akwarell means goes even beyond that. Akwarell is a place where we can be more independent. Here, it's important to explain what I mean by independence.

Independence does NOT mean we will do everything on our own. Independence does NOT mean we don't need anybody any longer. Independence means being able to make our own choices. Independence means having the necessary help and support to fulfil our full potential. And, in truth, no one in society can live on his/her own. We all need each other in life.


Concluding Remarks


There are many people whom we must thank for making all this possible, each in our different way.

For my part I must thank my parents and all my family, my friends and my work-mates at KNPD. If it hadn't been for all of you, I would not be here today.

However, today was only possible because of the work carried out by pioneers such as Mons Azzopardi who wanted to give us, disabled people, back our life and dignity. Mons Azzopardi who also helped change the Church's approach to disability from a question of false charity to one of social responsibility. I must also thank those who followed in his footsteps at Id-Dar tal-Providenza, Mons. Gatt and Fr Martin Micallef.

I think that my friends who will be moving in Akwarell in the coming days will agree with me when I say that we are indebted to all those of you who continue to help and support us to achieve the best possible quality of life.
I trust in your continued support.

Thank you all!

Have a good day...

Footnotes

As explained in my last entry Meditations in Watercolor, last Thursday, I participated in an activity to inaugurate the official opening of our new home at Qawra. I explained how I was asked to be one of the speakers for the occasion - especially since I‚ll be one of the ones who will be living there for the forthcoming future. Since some have expressed the wish to get an idea of what my speech was about, I have decided to share the text I used as a guide in document for my speech. Incidentally, I would later discover that November 22 was also Thanksgiving in the US, so it‚Äôs a speech appropriate to mark such a day - which was, in a sense, an occasion of expressing my thanks and gratitude for the opportunity to live more independently.

*The word "Akwarell" is the Maltese word meaning "water-colour painting".

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Post on Watercolours?

Today, I participated in the official opening of a new building which I hope will be my new home for the coming future. This house, which is supported by the Church with some help from the state, will offer me to live more independently and share my experience with two other disabled mates. I hope that this will help me express who I am and my potential to its fullest. However, I have already written a post on my other blog at ZoneMind entitled Meditations in Watercolours… 

 

I hope, of course, to be able to contribute more to the D-ZONE but these last few days have been a bit emotional and I’ve still got to make the last plans as I spend my last weekend at my childhood home.

 

I’m sure that, even if it’ll be hard for me to leave Paola, where there’s my childhood home, I trust that my new place at Qawra will help me grow and make new experiences and friends. 

 

I’ll be posting the entry to ZoneMind  later next week. But, if you can’t wait and want to read some personal reflections on my mve, just visit the post Meditations in Watercolours… now!

 

Enjoy!

Friday, November 02, 2012

My Vote: No Secret!

Voting trends around the world seem to indicate a decline in the voting rate of citizens. Even if one cannot generalise, EU countries appear to show a consistent decline in voting rates, especially amongst younger voters. Concurrently, rise in unemployment and the decrease in standard of living has increased the support of far right extremists.

Here, I won’t go into detail about what may be causing this disenchantment with the political system. While in Malta (where I live), voting trends remain relatively high, I expect that the next general election will show a decrease in the number of voters - probably from younger voters, I don’t expect any radical changes in local voting trends.

However, it is the very fact that people are less confident in politics to achieve social change that should be worrying politicians. For, even if the modern democratic system is far from perfect, a vote is a way that a citizen can have his/her say in the running of the country. This isn’t saying that the democratic process cannot lead to horrendous results but, at least, it should give everyone a chance to participate in the operation of the state.

The importance of participating in the electoral process cannot be emphasised enough. Especially if you consider how this democratic process has evolved from a right only available to elite men in ancient Greece and eventually extending to all citizens under the law. Thus, when I hear that someone is either going to waste his vote or not bother to vote in the first place, I realise how much we have taken the right to vote for granted as people around the world are still denied this important right and even dying for it.

For, in spite of its limitations, the democratic process may be the only chance for many to make a statement about who they wish to be governed by. The act of voting provides you with the opportunity to do something to change the things you don’t like, or else, to express your trust and confidence in the current administration. Perhaps, more importantly, it is an agreement between you and the state, and, thus, there are situations when it can be denied you. More importantly, as history reveals, the vote is not a given and the wrong` government may revoke this right. This isn’t implying that this would be fair or just but that it has happened before in other countries.

I really started appreciating my right to vote around nine years ago, when due to my vision loss, I realised that I was having problems reading the ballot paper. Back then, a magnifying lens did help me but now I don’t risk to invalidate my vote by attempting to fill in the ballot paper. Since Malta has ratified the UN Convention Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCHRPD), I hope that the state of affairs changes by the next election or, at least, the very next.

To this day, a good number of disabled people having different impairments who cannot use the conventional means of pencil and paper to vote are forced to choose voting in front of an electoral commission composed of representatives from every party contesting the given election.

I was forced to go through the electoral commission for these past elections with a certain sense of hesitation. For, even if the four or five overseeing commissioners are bound by an oath of confidentiality, they know how I voted back then.

And if the state doesn’t change the electoral process in such a way that people in my situation can really have a secret vote, then I remain unequal and my vote an open secret - if there is such a thing.

I don’t find any problems with making my position heard. I only fear those who may use it against me. I want, at the end of the day, have the same right to privacy.



For, apart from being my constitutional right as a Maltese citizen to have a secret vote, it is also forms part of my duties as a citizen.