Charity comes back home where providence lives

    55 years of Dar tal-Providenza

    On 12th September 1965, Mons. Mikiel Azzopardi made the first public appeal for donations to Id-Dar tal-Providenza with a heartfelt message roaring over the national radio waves. Our society has seen radical transformations in the five decades since, but the love and generosity of the Maltese public towards the residents of the Dar tal-Providenza remains unchanged.

    Every year, hundreds of families, companies, and individuals participate in the Dar tal-Providenza miracle that brings joy, meaningfulness and life opportunities to the residents and their relatives. They offer their time, money, and energy with admirable tenderness and unselfishness to make sure that the charitable organisation is truly a home for persons with disability.

    Charity is not the giving of money; it is the giving of dignity.

    All those involved in the effective running of the Dar tal-Providenza give everything to improve the lives of persons with disabilities – from professional care to quality facilities. The fundamental offering, however, is always dignity.

    The home belongs to the residents themselves: it is their own vibrant, loving community and it is their shared space to make an impact on society. Here they find the freedom to live equally, fairly, and respectfully. But Id-Dar tal-Providenza is not a population set apart; on the contrary, the true beauty of the home is that it is an intrinsic part of the wider community in Malta. Residents are as active in the goings-on of national life as everybody else and, in turn, they welcome everyone to their home with open arms.

    Id-Dar tal-Providenza reveals the best in the Maltese public – not only by raising funds, but by raising aspirations, prospects, and self-belief in the residents themelves. The home has developed into the very essence of a national project to which everyone feels attached and towards everyone has, somehow or another, contributed. The amazing story of the Dar tal-Providenza is written with the input of every generation of the Maltese population since the 1960s and has been a brilliant manifestation of our values of societal care and responsibility towards one another.

    When Mons. Azzopardi founded the home; his visionary concept was to empower persons with disability to participate fully in society. A radical idea at a time when disability was more likely to be swept silently under the carpet. The place that Id-Dar tal-Providenza now occupies in the public consciousness is the culmination of that original dream where residents can live independently but not in segregation.

    Nevertheless, the vision of has not yet arrived at full fruition and the management, professionals and volunteers are working tirelessly to enable the services of the home to come closer to communities in the towns they know. The ambition requires determination, a sound plan, and solid funding.

    The coronavirus pandemic threw a spanner in the works. Social distancing rules and economic uncertainty made it extremely difficult for the home financially, precisely at a time when the residents and their families needed to feel a greater sense of reassurance. Soon enough, though, companies, organisations, and people from all sectors of life stepped up to help out with monetary donations and services in kind. It was a superb reminder of how much Id-Dar tal-Providenza is cherished by the public: when things started becoming tough for everyone, everyone thought of the tougher times for the residents.

    We commonly think of providence as an extraordinary intervention that coincides with an urgent need, but the Dar tal-Providenza experience shows that the reality of providence is much less accidental or random. Providence flows from a commitment to the wellbeing of society and a deep understanding that a community is formed by openness to others.

    Yes, there are numerous instances when the right contribution arrives at just the right time and in the right shape. These are occurrences that evoke inexpressible emotions deep within our hearts every single time we witness them. But we must be careful not to overlook the human design in wonderful acts of providence; the daily surprises that the residents of Dar Tal-Providenza can testify to, are the tangible reflection of the altruism and goodness that remain core to our society.

    Over the last 55 years, the extended Maltese family has built a suitable home for benevolence and compassion, for dedication and hope, for accessibility and friendship. It has built a home for providence.

    Jesmond Saliba  

    Member of the Board of Directors Dar tal-Providenza