The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

Marie Benoit's Diary: A pleasant luncheon for a good cause

Marie Benoît Sunday, 15 May 2022, 09:28 Last update: about 2 months ago
Mariella Agius, Aidan Drakard, Lisa Gauci, Ryan Hili, Michelle Muscat, Ivan Grech, Maria Grech, Jennifer Xuereb
Mariella Agius, Aidan Drakard, Lisa Gauci, Ryan Hili, Michelle Muscat, Ivan Grech, Maria Grech, Jennifer Xuereb

The Maltese are generous when it comes to fundraising. This is obvious just by watching the fundraising that goes on on TV stations. Whether it is for the missions, The Community Chest Fund, the Trust Foundation and others.  Many organisations would not be able to survive and carry on their work without our help.

Mrs Muscat, Kenneth Zammit Tabona, Marie Benoit, Ivan Grech, Maria Grech, Iosif Galea, Stephen Cordina, Domenic Calleja, Maxim the Illusionist 


Michelle Muscat set up The Marigold  Foundation right from the beginning when Labour was elected in 2013, after being in Opposition for some 25 years. I knew Michelle when she worked in PR and I was working fulltime at The Malta Independent. She wasn't yet married at the time. She then went on to work as Dr Sant's personal assistant, eventually to become Dr Muscat's wife where she continued to be her energetic self, promoting The Marigold Foundation. Let me not fail to mention that this Foundation has attracted several volunteers who give their all in the various roles they play.

In spite of her husband's resignation Mrs Muscat has kept the Foundation going. But not only.  Since 2014 the cause of rare diseases in Malta has been put on the national agenda through the work and actions of The Marigold Foundation which started a two year long campaign on the need to set up a national alliance on rare diseases. Through its fund-raising activities it raised enough funds to set up the National Alliance for Rare Diseases Support - Malta. Mrs Muscat's mother, after all, died of a rare disease.

The National Alliance works closely with EURORDIS, establishing a link that has served to promote  the cause of rare diseases suffers both on the national and international agenda. The National Alliance brings together patients, relatives, researchers, medical professionals and other organisations representing specific conditions. There is now more care, support and awareness for both patients and their relatives. A National Directory was started in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in 2016. This is making it possible to trace rare conditions and diseases.

Pauline Agius,  a capable and genial presenter

Mrs Muscat's mother was diagnosed with a rare disease which took her life in just three years. She says: "My personal experience of living with and caring for someone with a rare condition has enabled me to empathise with similar patients and relatives who know that there is no real and proper diagnosis, no medication, no cure and most times no real understanding of what that person is going through. Hopefully this Alliance provides a shoulder to cry on and a bigger family with whom to share a different yet similar journey."

Domenic Calleja and Maxim the Illusionist 

This year the fundraising event was a Spring Gala Luncheon at Giardini Lambrosa which is on the way to Rabat. It is owned and managed by the long-established Elia Caterers. I had never been there before. It is newly built, with plenty of space and greenery as well as the iconic view of Mdina.

Pre-prandial drinks were enjoyed indoors as we greeted friends and acquaintances many of whom we had not seen in two years. I must say my fellow countrywomen enjoy dressing up for an occasion. It makes a pleasant change from The Age of Comfort and Sloppiness which has taken over Malta. I really don't like it. It renders life monotonous.

Luncheon was on the spacious veranda. Portions were very generous and I had to ask to have my veal halved before starting. I hate waste. Service was excellent with waiters and waitresses briskly serving hot food. No mean task when there are so many people. I usually need three days off after a dinner party of eight at home, now a rare occasion.

There was singing, a raffle with generous prizes including a painting by Kenneth Zammit Tabone.

Rita Cassar Montanaro,  Jennifer Xuereb 

In a short speech Mrs Muscat said: "We do not issue regular press releases or media coverage. But we pride ourselves in the calls we get from patients who tell us we are making a difference in their life. Delivering change, one person at a time, is rewarding enough even if it doesn't make it to the headlines.

We want to reassure donors and supporters that we will continue to use the funds allocated to us diligently and in a way in which value is maximised. We are proud that we are given the compliance certificate by the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations." She made a reference to the difficult plight of rare disease patients in times of war such as the one in the Ukraine at present, where the service is disrupted. "I am proud that EURORDIS, of which the National Alliance for Rare Diseases in Malta is an active member, is helping its counterparts in affected areas with contacts and with what is practically possible."

A most pleasant luncheon for an excellent cause.

Rita Cassar Montanaro , Mariella Agius and Soleil Sophie Muscat

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