The Malta Independent 23 September 2019, Monday

You’re on my Christmas Tree

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 19 December 2018, 08:00 Last update: about 10 months ago

The Christmas Tree in our culture represents ‘shining hope’. 

This is a list of people who would make up my ‘Christmas Tree’, individuals who in their own way, even if I did not always agree with them, represent optimism of sorts (sorry Benjamin Camilleri, k/a Ben Camille, you will not make it to my tree even though you had a baby!)

So here we go (listed in alphabetical order):


Domenic Aquilina.  One of the most unassuming photo artists in Malta and recognised internationally.  This photographer is an example to all professionals, namely, that if you work hard you will unquestionably achieve. 


Rachel Attard.  This editor-in-chief of The Malta Independent has the ability to take her newspaper up a notch.  Her prowess and knack are qualities that are in high demand.


Karl Azzopardi.  This young upcoming MaltaToday journalist has managed through the support of the whole team of MT come up with a number of very trying stories he surveyed, written in a language that is intelligible.   Facebook warriors turn guns on wrong man and Marsa band club refuses entry to black people stand out as two important realities that merited our attention.  A promising future indeed.  (He even happens to be my son!)


Peppi Azzopardi.  I really cannot imagine a society without this critical voice.  He will stand up to what he believes in even if it means having the whole of the public opinion against him.  He does what most of us would only dream of committing to; visit prisoners, support the downtrodden and browbeaten and is ready to pronounce himself with those who sit on the side-lines.  His pluck and nerve to face up to disapproval is impressive.


Marie Briguglio.  One of the many academics who has a social conscious but one of the few who makes it a point in her life to lead by example and voice her thoughts, even if this creates discomfort for her.  An exemplary public intellectual.


Jeremy Camilleri.  Take away the fact that he is a staunch Liverpool FC supporter and you get an intelligent and intelligible voice that serves the community immensely!  An exemplary trade unionist, an opinion maker and an insightful leftist – a rare combination.


Rene’ Camilleri.  One of those priests who remains a favourite because he speaks his heart and mind and blends them perfectly well.  The free-spiritedness of this man is extraordinary.  He is as free as they come and nothing and nobody will bar what he wants to say.


Josanne Cassar.  One of the best bloggers we have in this country; eloquent, profound and deep-seated.  She writes brilliantly and foregoes political correctness.  She says it how she believes it.


Alexander Dimitrijevic.  A voice in social media that gives hope.  A commendable freethinker.  A nonconformist and rationalist with a passion for life and to make things right.


Miriam Dalli.  This MEP has been touted as Muscat’s successor.  It is commended that whatever happens in the next couple of years, Dalli retains her humility, personality and industriousness.  She has the qualities to become an even better politician.


Keith Demicoli.  Keith apart from being an excellent journalist has the ability to read into the life stories of people with utter sensitivity and kindliness you don’t often find.


Alistair Degaetano.  This disabled activist and lawyer is one of the most brilliant and upcoming champions in the disability sector.  His first-hand experience of having to struggle with exclusion in his life has brought out the best of him.  We will be hearing a lot about this person very soon, mark my words.


Faculty for Social Wellbeing.  This Faculty has worked endlessly this year.  I believe the cherry on the cake was the documentary, Il-gerha tas-Solitudni:  Il-mixja lejn soluzzjoni a Faculty collective effort in tandem with Caritas Malta to make known this serious issue that needs to be addressed; ‘loneliness’. 


Ray Francalanza.  This Augustinian is a friend who was also responsible for overseeing my marriage.  Ray is a Priest who notwithstanding his intensity and the pain that the Church seems to make him go through remains loyal to the essential message of his Master, Jesus Christ; that, “life is about a journey, you just need to trudge on even when you cannot understand’’.  I am always in awe in front of people who dedicate themselves to a cause.


Godfrey Farrugia MP.  The new leader of the PD is an exemplary politician who puts Malta first.  One of the most insightful and grounded politicians I know.  This likeable man has sacrificed so much for others and he still does so unreservedly.


Julia Farrugia Portelli MP.  A bourgeoning politician.  She has managed to make the transition from journalist to politician in a smooth and suave way and this when she was given one of the most challenging portfolios.  Julia works hard to consult with all stakeholders and is above all conscientious.  You cannot ask for more from a politician. 


Mario Galea MP.  I am flabbergasted at the generosity of this man who has repeatedly spoken about his life debacles with utmost self-giving.  The impact he has left on peoples’ lives is second to none.  One of my all-time favourites.


Anton Grech. The Chairman of Psychiatry who is an excellent clinician, an outstanding researcher but at the same time a great human who conveys a message of optimism and hopefulness.


Claudio Grech MP.  One of the most promising politicians currently on the PN list. Even though he might not agree with all of his Party positions, I believe he is doing the honourable thing and using internal structures to voice his opinions.  Above all he is one to get on with it and the social sector will most certainly benefit from his contribution.


Herman Grech.  One journalist who has a clear line of thought.  You might not always agree with him but at least he is as clear as crystal.  Journalists in so many ways are politicians, they are the ones that need to provide for critical thought.  Take away that and we are a thousand ways poorer.


Veronica Grech.  The Registrar of the University of Malta is one of the strongest, most industrious women I have ever worked with.  Her firm look does not do justice with the sensitivity that sits within her.  Her passion for her work and her decisiveness to give the best quality of service with ‘old school’ ethical principles merits our admiration.   


Ray Mangion.  This Professor of repute has worked tirelessly.  I wonder why he shouldn’t have better recognition of the work he does.  He is a topmost intellectual whose work is focused on preserving the collective memory.


Jason Micallef.  He has managed to ride the criticism and provide for some great opportunities for artists during his tenure as the V18 Chairman.  He might be a bit ‘spint’ at times but try imagining Malta without these characters and it will all go dull.  Jason has his own way of making himself heard.  What I admire about him is that he has never shied away from positioning himself on issues and stating what his beliefs are.  Valletta 18 will be a legacy for years to come.


Charles Miceli.  Malta has lost the last man standing with genuine leftist principles.  


Marica Mizzi.  Marica is the PR and Fund raising officer of Caritas Malta.  Apart from her commendable work with Caritas Malta, Marica is one positive generous soul who works with passion but is so grounded.  She gets her strength from the people she works with, those, who not out of their own choice, are at the bottom of the heap.


Maria La Barocca Muscat.  I don’t know of many women who have managed to draw so much affirmative energy and direct it back to the people.  She is a good journalist but above all a marvellous soul. 


Pierre Portelli.  Portelli had it all planned out in life and yet he decided to give up so much.  I am sure he could have made easier life choices than trying to sort out the media of the PN and supporting his leader, Dr Adrian Delia.  This is a great act because we all know that politics is a lose-lose, and it is only the motivation and good heartedness that will see you through. 


Jes Saliba.  He is the creator of Corporate Dispatch. Jes Saliba is an expert in communications and a long-time political and social observer. Corporate Dispatch focuses on ‘insight-based online-information’.  It is slowly but surely turning into one of the most sought after information points.


Oliver Scicluna.  One of the soundest champions in the disability sector I have known in my lifetime.  Still young and with immense potential that still needs to be unpacked.  The disability sector has taken a lease of life under his leadership.


Alfred Vella.  The Rector of the University of Malta is not one to blow one’s own trumpet, however his passion for the Alma mater has translated into a number of initiatives that have made our University more accessible.


Darleen Zerafa.  This reserved Director who manages Dar Kenn ghal Sahhtek is one of the most unassuming and humble persons I have ever crossed paths with.  Her impact on the lives of so many people might go unnoticed to many but not to the individuals who have benefitted from her knowledge and proficiency in the field of eating disorders.

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