Ivan Bartolo: is-solidarjetá fl-aqwa tagħha

Fi żmien meta uħud mill-politiċi, u dawk ta’ madwarhom, ikunu fl-aħbarijiet dwar dak li qed jaħtfu jew japprofittaw ruħhom minnu, hu ta’ kuraġġ li tisma’ b’wieħed li qiegħed fl-aħbarijiet għal dak li qed jagħti. Qed nikteb dwar Ivan Bartolo, Membru Parlamentari tal-PN, li iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa kien fl-aħbarijiet minħabba donazzjoni ta’ kilwa minn tiegħu lil persuna li ma jafx biex din il-persuna tkun tista’ tgħix ħajja aħjar.

Id-donazzjoni ta’ organi umani, għal min ikun qed jirċievi d-donazzjoni hi daqs li jkun twieled mill-ġdid. Hi l-isbaħ rigal li qatt jista’ jingħata. Jekk li tħalli l-organi tiegħek biex jintużaw wara mewtek hu ġest nobbli u ta’ min ifaħħru, kemm hu iktar minn hekk jekk id-donazzjoni tagħmilha inti stess bir-rieda esklussiva tiegħek waqt li għadek ħaj.

Il-ġest nobbli ta’ Ivan Bartolo hu opportunitá biex niffukaw fuq il-ħtieġa ta’ iktar donazzjonijiet ta’ organi umani. Kemm biex ikunu salvati ħajjiet, kif ukoll biex ikun possibli li titjieb il-ħajja ta’ bosta.

Tirrikjedi kuraġġ kbir biex f’ħajtek tagħti donazzjoni ta’ wieħed mill-organi tiegħek. Dan hu ġest li xi minn daqqiet isir minn ġenituri biex jgħinu lill-uliedhom morda inkella hu ġest li jsir bejn l-aħwa biex jgħinu lil xulxin f’sitwazzjoni ta’ ħajja jew mewt. Ivan mar lil hinn minn solidarjetá bejn membri tal-istess familja. Id-donazzjoni tal-kilwa tiegħu lil persuna li ma jafx hi l-milja tas-solidarjetá umana: Ivan Bartolo huwa s-Sammaritan it-tajjeb tal-21 seklu.

F’Malta, bħal f’bosta pajjiżi oħra, d-diskrepanza bejn id-domanda għall-organi umani meħtieġa għat-trapjant u d-disponibilitá ta’ dawn l-istess organi qegħda dejjem tiżdied. Biex tkun indirizzata din id-diskrepanza, fl-2016 il-Parlament approva liġi li tipprovdi l-qafas legali tant meħtieġ għal organizzazzjoni aħjar ta’ dawn id-donazzjonijiet ta’ organi kif ukoll biex tkun protetta din l-informazzjoni tant sensittiva. Din il-leġislazzjoni tipprovdi l-mekkaniżmi meħtieġa biex ix-xewqat ta’ dawk li jixtiequ jagħmlu donazzjoni ta’ organu jew organi tagħhom wara mewthom għal skop ta’ trapjant tkun implimentata billi tkun magħrufa mill-awtoritajiet tas-saħħa. Informazzjoni dwar kif tista’ tirreġistra tinkiseb minn fuq is-sit elettroniku tal-Ministeru tas-Saħħa (www.health.gov.mt).

Id-donazzjoni ta’ organu uman biex dan jintuża għal trapjant jista’ jsalva l-ħajja inkella jtejjeb sostanzjalment il-kwalitá tal-ħajja ta’ min jirċivieh.

Il-ġest nobbli ta’ Ivan Bartolo hu ta’ eżempju lil kulħadd dwar dak li hi s-solidarjetá umana. Grazzi Ivan.

Ippubblikat f’Illum : il-Ħadd 30 ta’ Lulju 2017

Ivan Bartolo : solidarity at its best

In a day and age when a number of politicians and their hangers-on make the headlines for reasons of greed, for making hay while the sun shines, its quite a change to have a politician in the news for making a donation rather than for receiving one!

I refer to Ivan Bartolo, PN Member of Parliament who, earlier this week, donated one of his kidneys to a person unknown to him, in order that this person may have a better life.

The donation of a human organ is a second gift of life to the recipient. It is one of the most powerful gifts possible. To donate your organs after your death is commendable; carrying out such a donation while you are still alive, and in your prime, is beyond commendable.

Ivan Bartolo’s noble act serves as a reminder to focus on the need for more organ donations in order to save the lives of some and improve the lives of others.

It takes considerable courage to donate one of your organs when you are still alive. It is something occasionally done by parents to help an ailing child, or by brothers and sisters to help each other in a situation of extreme need. Ivan went beyond familial ties of solidarity – he went one better : to donate of his kidneys to a stranger is an expression of human solidarity in its fullest possible sense. He is a 21st-century good Samaritan.

In Malta, as in most other countries, the gap between the supply and demand of human organs for transplant is widening.  Last year, in order to address this shortfall,  Parliament approved legislation to create a legal framework that facilitates human organ, tissue and cell donation in order to improve the donation process as well as to protect the resulting sensitive information. This legislation provides a framework for registering with the health  authorities the wishes of those wanting to donate an organ, tissue or cells after their death. Information on how to register is available on the Ministry for Health’s website http://www.health.gov.mt.

Donating an organ can save or prolong the life of the recipient or else it can substantially improve the recipient’s quality of life.

Thank You Ivan. You are an example to us all of what solidarity with each other really means and how much it can achieve.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 30 July 2017

L-attakki fuq Mario de Marco

L-attakki fuq Mario de Marco li qed jagħmlu uħud, flimkien mas-skiet ta dawk ta’ madwaru, kif  ukoll in-nuqqas ta Simon Busuttil li jlissen kelma ta appoġġ bħala turija ta solidarjetá pubblika juri (għal min kien għadu ma ndunax) l-istat li fih jinsab il-Partit Nazzjonalista illum.

Kif diġa kelli l-opportunitá li nikkummenta fuq dan il-blog, huwa tajjeb li min hu fil-ħajja pubblika jagħti tagħrif bażiku dwar l-istat ta’ saħħtu. Għax il-pubbliku għandu dritt li jkun jaf.

Imma hemm limitu għal kollox.

Meta tapprofitta ruħek mill-fatt li persuna tinsab mal-art biex tipprova twarrabha min-nofs bid-daqqiet ta’ sieq tkun qed turi x’valuri għandek.

Minn ċerti nies ma kontx nistenna aħjar, u ż-żmien sfortunatament qed jagħtina raġun.

Solidarjetá staġjonali?

solidarity

Is-solidarjetá, bla dubju, hi waħda mill-karatteristiċi ewlenin ta’ pajjiżna f’dan iż-żmien tas-sena. Dan hu tajjeb u ilu hekk għal żmien twil.

Din is-solidarjetá timmanifesta ruħha b’diversi modi, imma prinċipalment permezz tal-ġenerożitá, bosta drabi qawwija, favur kawżi ġusti. Matul dawn il-ġranet, isir ġbir sostanzjali għall-Community Chest Fund, għad-Dar tal-Providenza u anke għal diversi kawżi ġusti oħra. Hi solidarjetá staġjonali, solidarjetá għax-xahar tal-Milied.

Filwaqt li dan huwa kollu pożittiv, ikun tajjeb kieku naħsbu ftit kif nistgħu mmorru lil hin minn solidarjetá staġjonali, għal solidarjetá li tkun preżenti fl-istaġuni kollha. Għax filwaqt li hu tajjeb li fi żmien il-Milied nieqfu ftit u ndaħħlu jdejna fil-but biex inkunu ta’ għajnuna għal min għandu bżonnha, ikun floku iktar jekk nirrealizzaw li l-ħtieġa għall-għajnuna qegħda hemm fil-bqija tal-ġranet tas-sena ukoll. Għax is-sena fiha 364 jum ieħor, barra mill-Milied! U f’sena bħall-2016, ikun hemm ġurnata żejda ukoll.

Il-ħajja hi mgħaġġla. Fl-inħawi mibnijin b’mod intensiv f’dawn l-aħħar snin, naqas sewwa s-sens ta’ komunitá li kienet tinħass ferm iktar meta l-komunitajiet fl-ibliet u l-irħula tagħna kienu ħafna iżgħar milli huma illum. Fi blokki kbar ta’ flats, wieħed ħdejn l-ieħor, ħafna drabi qieshom gallinari tal-konkos, illum l-individwu jintilef fil-massa u mhux dejjem faċli li nindunaw b’dawk fostna li jkunu jeħtieġu l-għajnuna fil-mument li dawn ikunu jeħtiġuha. Ħafna drabi, lanqas ma huwa possibli li dawk li jmexxu s-servizzi li jipprovdi l-istat jindunaw mill-ewwel b’dawk li jkunu jeħtieġu l-għajnuna.

Il-Kunsilli Lokali jista’ jkollhom rwol importanti f’dan ir-rigward. Rwol li uħud minnhom, minkejja l-limitazzjoni ta’ riżorsi, diġa qed jippruvaw jiżviluppaw bil-mod. Mertu għal dan, huwa s-sens ta’ inizjattiva li għandhom uħud mill-kunsilliera lokali tagħna u l-imħabba tagħhom lejn lokalitajiet ħajjin li jagħtu kontribut siewi biex jissaħħu l-egħruq tal-komunitajiet tagħna . Għax il-politika soċjali, biex tkun mill-iktar effettiva, teħtieġ li tkun applikata l-iktar viċin possibli tal-egħruq tas-soċjetá. Hemmhekk, fejn il-biki jinstema’ mill-viċin u fejn l-uġiegħ jinħass sewwa.

Il-biki u l-krib ta’ min qiegħed ibati u l-uġiegħ tal-imġarrab ma jeżistux biss fil-ġranet tal-Milied. Jeżistu ukoll matul l-istaġuni l-oħra, meta l-parti l-kbira tagħna, inkunu għaddejjin bil-ħajja “normali”.

Anke f’dawk il-ġranet hemm ħtieġa tas-solidarjetá.   Għax l-ispirtu tal-Milied għandu japplika matul is-sena kollha.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum – Is-Sibt 24 ta’ Diċembru 2016

Deheb, inċens u birra

beer

Is-sinifikat tal-Milied inbidel drastikament tul is-snin. Minn festa reliġjuża assoċjata mal-paċi u s-solidarjetá, illum il-ġurnata, donnu li iktar assumiet tifsira ta xalar, divertiment u rigali. Mhux għal kulħadd.

Anke jekk il-paċi u s-solidarjetá mhumiex xi monopolju reliġjuż. Hemm mumenti fejn is-sinifikat tas-solidarjetá jidwi, imma sfortunatament jgħaddu l-festi u ftit jew wisq jintesa. Sa sena oħra.

Flok id-deheb, l-inċens u l-mirra li jingħad illi ġarrew is-slaten magi illum issir l-adorazzjoni tad-deheb, l-inċens u l-birra. Id-deheb simbolu tal-korruzzjoni, l-inċens simbolu tal-adorazzjoni tal-poter u l-birra li tissimbolizza x-xalar eċċessiv.

Is-solidarjetá żmiena s-sena kollha, mhux biss fil-ġranet tal-Milied.

Il-Milied it-tajjeb lil kulħadd.

 

 

 

 

The solidarity challenge

New Deal for Somalia

The boats and dinghies departing from the Libyan coast are a stiff challenge to the solidarity which Malta has traditionally  shown towards all those who required it.

The departures from the Libyan coast are controlled by criminal gangs who are cashing in on the suffering of men, women and children fleeing  from their countries for a multitude of reasons, seeking a better quality of life and fleeing persecution.

The boats and dinghies represent their future hopes. For some it has meant death. Battered by the rough seas some make it to their destination, the Italian mainland. Others end up on our shores.

The number of arrivals is on the rise. There is a limit to what this country can take. But the limit is a physical one as the duty to put solidarity in practice has no limits.

Malta always offered practical solidarity to those in distress as we have always felt that it is our duty to uphold the dignity of all human beings irrespective of their country of origin or race. Offering hospitality is not and should never be conditional on whether others help us in shouldering our responsibilities. We do it as a nation because it is the right thing to do.

There is so much more that Malta could do if we are assisted by our EU partners. So far there has been substantial assistance in monetary terms. This has been utilised to improve Malta’s rescue capabilities as well as in providing decent places where immigrants are housed. But this is certainly not enough.

There has been talk of looking towards the South.  Last Monday Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has also been involved in talks with the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta as the challenge we face is not just ours, it is a regional one.

The involvement of Libya is not without its problems. Libya, as also emphasisied by Prime Minister Letta on Monday, is not yet a signatory of the Geneva Convention  on the status of refugees. Human Rights, in addition, are not an area with which the Libyan state is familiar yet. Having secure Libyan borders just shifts the problem from the Mediterranean to Libyan soil.

The real solution lies much further south then Libya. It lies in the countries of origin of the boat people whom Malta and Italy have saved from the perils of the sea. Some are Somali, others are from Ethiopia, Eritreia or other countries.

65% of the 1890  boat people arriving in Malta in 2012 were Somali.

The European Union is in fact already acting in this direction. In collaboration with the government of Somalia the EU will shortly be convening an international conference to endorse a New Deal with Somalia that aims to develop a set of key priorities and support the reconstruction of Somalia over the next three years. It is the way that the international community makes good on its promises of support to the Somali people. The healing of the scars resulting from a long civil war takes considerable time.

Through the New Deal for Somalia the EU is assisting the reconstruction of Somalia, an essential prerequisite in creating the infrastructure which is necessary to ensure that all Somali citizens are protected and can partake of an adequate quality of life in their own country. Once the reconstruction of Somalia with EU assistance is in place there will be no further reason for large numbers of Somalis to flee their own country. Some will undoubtedly want to consider returning to take part in the transformation of Somalia, getting it ready to participate as an equal partner in the international family of nations.

Helping Somalia to help herself. This is EU solidarity at its best.

The EU has already helped in training Somali soldiers. It has also invested heavily in maritime security off the Somali coast contributing to a substantial reduction of piracy which has been of international concern for years.

The next steps will necessitate Somalia doing a deal with its global partners to clear its huge financial arrears and put in place international aid programmes to help establish the Somali government’s legitimacy.

The EU has been looking at long term solutions. Unfortunately it did not give sufficient attention to the short term problems which primarily Malta and Italy have been facing. The human suffering generated needs to be addressed immediately.

Malta and Italy should not be left on their own to manage  the impacts which have been generated by migration.  A common strategy to manage the extreme pressures caused by the seasonal increase in the arrival of asylum seekers in Southern Europe is essential  until such time that the long term measures which the EU has initiated in Somalia have the desired effect.

This is the solidarity challenge which the EU is facing. And the EU is not them. It is us as well.

Published in The Times of Malta, 20 July 2013 

Human Rights are not disposables

foam_disposables_cups

Human Rights are an essential cornerstone of democratic society. They are an integral and indispensable element of our democratic landscape. They are not disposable. We cannot do without them.

Being a savage blow struck against human rights, Joseph Muscat’s pushback of immigrants to Libya hence strikes at the very core of our democratic credentials.

During Malta’s short 50 year history as a democratic state we have had more than our fair share of political bullies who considered that human rights were shackling their political manoeuvres. We surely do not need any more.

The migration problem is certainly much greater than Malta can possibly handle on its own. Financial assistance from the EU has always been welcome but this can only be a small part of the solution. There are other  essential elements which have to be tackled.

Many EU member states have been reluctant to assist in the resettlement of these refugees. The EU institutions have not been forceful enough in translating solidarity declarations into practical initiatives. Pilot projects, now discontinued, are certainly not enough.

The root causes of the displacement of hundreds of thousands must be appropriately addressed. These include political instability, dictatorial governments and Climate Change impacts. The EU, on its own as well as in conjunction with regional and global institutions could do much more than has been done to date.

On a local level we need to move on from rhetoric to practical political action to tackle this issue of national importance. There is room for close political cooperation between the three political parties. This however must be based on an unconditional respect of human rights. It is the only way to combat the spectre of racism in Malta.

Common sense, solidarity and an end to the culture of indifference should be the foundation stones of a national strategy on immigration. It is the only way forward.

Pope Benedict XVI : Laying the Groundwork for a Sustainable Civilization ?

by Gary Gardner

Published by Worldwatch Institute on April 15, 2008

Rumour has it that Pope Benedict may address climate change during his visit to the United Nations this week. Whether he does or not, his young papacy can claim to be the “greenest” ever. Benedict has identified extensive common ground between sustainability concerns and a Catholic worldview – adding weight to the argument that the world’s religions could be instrumental in nudging policymakers and the public to embrace sustainability. Now, the Pope has the opportunity to further develop the links between sustainability and religious values, markedly advancing thinking in both arenas.

Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, made important environmental statements during his long papacy, but Benedict is the first “green pope.” Last year, the Vatican installed solar panels on its 10,000-seat main auditorium building, and it arranged to reforest land in Hungary to offset Vatican City’s carbon emissions, making it the world’s first carbon-neutral state. And Benedict has repeatedly urged protection of the environment and action against poverty in a number of major addresses. His next encyclical (major papal teaching), due out this summer, is expected to further wrestle with environmental, social, and other themes of interest to the sustainability community.

As he embraces these themes, Benedict and the larger Catholic community could play an especially valuable role in helping to address two major influences on the environment that get too little attention today: consumption and population. (A third, technology, already receives high levels of policy focus.)

The consumption question should be comfortable ground for a modern Catholic pope, given the longstanding social and spiritual critique of consumerism in Catholic thought. For example, Pope Paul VI, in his 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, linked heavy consumption to injustice, declaring that, “No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life…. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.”

John Paul II added a spiritual dimension in Centesimus Annus in 1991, critiquing “a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards ‘having’ rather than ‘being,'” and urging people to “create life-styles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments.” The Church’s spiritual and social teachings are rich complements to modern environmental arguments against consumerism.

Benedict’s challenge is to move longstanding Church teaching into concrete action. Despite the extensive archive of papal statements on the subject, there is no evidence that Catholics consume less or differently than anyone else. Yet given that 40 percent of the human family lives on less than $2 a day while the prosperous among us consume casually and wastefully, Catholic leadership in redefining “the good life” away from accumulation and toward greater human wellbeing and solidarity with the poor cannot come soon enough.

Benedict will need to be creative in persuading the comfortable in his Church to take consumption teachings seriously. The dramatic equivalent of solar panels on a Vatican rooftop may be needed to move prosperous Catholics to critically assess their own consumption-and to find joy in consuming less.

The other issue, population, is more difficult for a Catholic leader to tackle, especially one with Benedict’s reputation for doctrinal strictness. For Benedict and most Catholics, human reproduction is a domain infused with questions of deep personal morality. But a pontiff who appreciates the epochal nature of the sustainability crisis must surely also recognize the moral challenges raised when human numbers grow exponentially in a finite world.

How much of modern hunger, disease, poverty, and environmental degradation can be blamed on population sizes that have exceeded the carrying capacity of local, regional, and global environments? The share is unknowable, but surely not small. The challenge for Benedict will be to apply his formidable intellect to harmonize the personal and social ethics of population issues.

Benedict’s interest in sustainability issues comes not a moment too soon. The sustainability crisis is civilizational in scope and depth-and therefore a natural concern for a global institution like the Catholic Church. Should Benedict raise the twin issues of consumption and population to the level of theological and spiritual attention they deserve, he would not only advance thinking on religious ethics-but also on how to create just and environmentally sustainable societies.

Gary Gardner is a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the book Inspiring Progress: Religions’ Contributions to Sustainable Development.