On Saturday 26th of June 2021, a thanksgiving ceremony, presided by the President of Malta, H.E. George Vella and the First Lady, was held at the OASI Centre to commemorate the OASI Foundation’s 30th anniversary. The 26th of June is also the International Day against Drug Abuse. The President awarded the Director General Fr Emmanuel Cordina with the OASI Foundation award, for his years of service towards OASI and society.
The President of Malta, H.E. George Vella mentioned that addiction includes not only alcohol and drugs but a vast number of other substances and behaviours which all impact us negatively. He added that OASI throughout its 30 years of work in society has breathed hope and a new lifestyle in the people who sought help. He continued by saying that although substances might present themselves as coping mechanisms, they are never the answer. Up to a few years ago, we thought nothing of alcohol or nicotine however nowadays, we know how hazardous they can be. Moreover, he warned against following trends blindly and emphasised how important it is to protect the health of youths in the Maltese and Gozitan society. Finally, he stressed the importance of teaching young people how to face times of troubles and difficulties through healthy coping mechanisms, rather than make use of substances, while further researching the drug phenomenon before taking any decisions.
Gozo Bishop Mons. Anton Teuma shared a narrative of a person who had ended in the grip of addiction. He stressed the importance of asking for help, especially psychological help rather than reverting to substances, including medication, where the latter should always be used under the direction of professionals. He congratulated OASI Foundation and Fr Cordina for this initiative.
Fr Cordina emphasised the importance of having solidarity and mutual respect between each other. He added that we tend to think that traditions and institutions are what prompt society to function when in reality fellowship and sharing are the driving force. The director Fr Cordina continued by thanking the Church for providing the land for the OASI premises, the Ministries and the government entities for their support. He also showed appreciation to all the benefactors, directors and members of staff.
Noel Xerri, the Foundation’s chief executive, mentioned how OASI has throughout the years seen the types of drugs in the Maltese society change and increase in their potency. He talked about the harms which are brought about with the normalisation of drugs and underlined the efforts the Foundation has carried out through the years in prevention and treatment and rehabilitation services. While referring to the 267 cases who during 2020 started their treatment processes within OASI, he mentioned how the Foundation has been for years cautioning society on its drug use and amalgamated lifestyle.
The Hon. Minister for Gozo, Clint Camilleri described how he has seen and touched the positive effects of the Foundation’s services in treatment and rehabilitation. He added that OASI is making a direct positive impact in the Maltese and Gozitan society.
Hon. Claudette Buttigieg, shared her experiences through her involvement with OASI Foundation. She added that she is concerned with the legalisation of cannabis and pleads for more research on cannabis before passing any laws.
Hon. Minister Justyne Caruana, Hon. Dr Kevein Cutujar and Hon. Dr Joseph Ellis were also present for the ceremony.