Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Mrs Michelle Muscat hosted a well-attended reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dar il-Kaptan in the grounds of the Prime Minister’s official summer residence, Girgenti Palace, Girgenti.
In his address Dr Muscat appealed to organisations in the sector of people with disability to work together so as not to duplicate scarce resources. “Let us not make this a turf war of who makes the best or the nicest.
“It has to be a healthy competition, yes, but one must try to do what the other does not do so that everyone in our society – our children, the persons with disability – will receive an ever better service. We do this by complementing not by competing with each other.”
Dr Muscat congratulated Dar il-Kaptan on its anniversary and expressed satisfaction at the new funding model being implemented with the Foundation for Respite Care Services (FRCS), which operates Dar il-Kaptan, and other organisations from whom services are purchased by the government.
“I am very pleased to hear that the service agreement that we signed last year helped you so that you could plan your work from time to time and you did not need to wait for the Budget to learn what is going to happen.”
In the area of funding, he paid tribute to the Marigold Foundation, chaired by his wife, which is helping Dar il-Kaptan and other organisations not by going in and doing things itself but by being the catalyst to help the organisations to do it themselves.
In tracing the “tremendous progress” where the rights of persons with disability are concerned in the past 40 years, Dr Muscat said “we have moved from a situation where society would reject that this part of society, which is so important, exists to a situation where social rights and benefits were introduced to a situation where educational inclusion into society was introduced.
“Here I wish to salute in particular Dr Lawrence Gonzi, who is here this evening, a pioneer and a visionary in this sector, both as a prime minister and as minister for social policy, and also as chairman of the National Commission Persons with Disability. Now we are moving to the next big step, which has just started, that inclusion does not stop with the school benches but also at the workplace, which we know is a very difficult step.”
He urged that this resistance be torn down, leading to a way of life for the Maltese and Gozitans.
FRCS chairperson Jennifer Sant traced the origins of Dar il-Kaptan to a group of parents who in 1990 felt the need to create a respite facility giving much-needed rest to those who looked after a member of their family with a disability. This was taken up by the National Society of Parents of Children with Disability, which teamed up with the National Commission Persons with Disability to identify a suitable site.
Policies were then drawn up for the benefit of these persons with disability and their parents who used this service. Mrs Sant singled out Rotary Club Malta among the various individuals and organisations who believed in this project and offered their assistance to enable Dar il-Kaptan to open on 10 November, 1991.
“In the past 25 years some 425 families have benefited from our residential and day-care services,” Mrs Sant said. “At present 280 families regularly use our services. We are proud that, thanks to our services, we are helping to keep families united, enabling them to continue to care for the person with disability in their home and not in an institution.”
She thanked the government for changing the annual grant it was receiving to a service agreement that enabled the foundation to cover a large part of its expenses, and Rotary Club Malta for their unceasing support in helping to ensure the success of the projects it undertook from time to time.
Despite the assistance from the Government and several benefactors, Dar il-Kaptan still faces financial problems. She referred to the €140,000 extension project inaugurated last year to enable Dar il-Kaptan to be in conformity with Health and Safety standards, enhance the facilities for their clients’ comfort and keep them occupied.
“We believe that Dar il-Kaptan was and remains in the heart of all Maltese society,” Mrs Sant said. “Whenever we needed help, we always found it both from individuals and institutions like the Malta Community Chest Fund, Wilhemmson Shipping, the Marigold Foundation and several others.” She thanked the innumerable persons who have helped the persons with disability at Dar il-Kaptan over the past 25 years.
Mrs Sant also mentioned that this year Dar il-Kaptan received the prestigious European Citizen’s Prize from the European Parliament in Brussels, which “gives us more courage to look to the future and continue to work fully to achieve our goals”.