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Last June, after that the Foundation’s Director General and Founder exposed publicly his opinion on the proposal of the political parties to discuss the legalisation of Cannabis for recreational and therapeutic purposes, staff, volunteers and present & past service users at OASI Foundation, also concerned about the underhanded way the subject matter regarding the Legalisation of Cannabis for Recreational Use is being publicly and politically handled declare, that:

While cannabis recreational usage is ostensibly being excused by the argument that certain people, suffering from certain conditions, could personally benefit from its use, consequently this justifies its legalisation and easy access on the open market even for recreational use. Such a rationale is defective and deviates into a perilous path to follow. We are well aware that derivatives from various natural products have always, through laboratory exploration and proper tests, been produced and made available, under control, for treatment of various medical conditions. Modern medicine is rich in such occurrences and we believe that cannabinoids derivatives could also be produced in a similar serious, medical setting and professional manner.

OASI Foundation’s concern relates to the negative health effects steps to unrestrained legalized moodaltering substances may have on our children’s future quality of life and that of our society at large. The following are our main concerns:

  1. Legalization of Cannabis use is a foreboding subject matter that requests first and foremost to be exposed for discussion amongst credited professionals and their clients/patients. These, through their social, psychological and physio-biological professional research, data, and experience should lead the direction of discussions and decision making on a public and political platform.
  2. Professionals in this field have had to deal with too many persons who, in their pre or early teens, started off smoking nicotine and consuming alcohol (both legal drugs) to end up taking a downward spiral into addiction, ruining their lives, that of their families and affecting society at large. Legalizing cannabis will intensify further this downward spiral.
  3. If smoking and alcohol are being severely discouraged nowadays, wouldn’t it be foolish to legalise other toxic or mood altering substances?
  4. We at OASI are aware of the misleading perception and mind-set that, as long as a person does not make use of heroin, there is no harm done in smoking cannabis or doing a line of cocaine every now and then. Therefore, the false justification follows, as cannabis does not kill physically, there is no harm done in its free use. Notwithstanding all this, it is common knowledge that smoking cannabis kills emotions and feelings towards oneself and others and thus risks the well-being of the user and society at large.
  5. Rather than legalizing drugs, the state should be more proactive in asking why our new generations are in this critical situation of choosing escapism instead of facing realities. The Education, Health and Social Ministries should therefore take up their responsibilities and truly lead by example to divert and invest their resources, human and financial, to do the required research and present academic solutions towards the understanding of the reasons behind such a thoughtless use of uncontrolled mood-altering substances simply to get an artificial good feeling in their lives.
  6. We feel that legalization, will be interpreted that there is no harm for a person to do marijuana – in all its forms and modes of ingestion, something which is obviously wrong. On the contrary, society, through those responsible for its good administering, has the responsibility to protect persons from myriad forms of poverty which cannabis can lead to. This should be done also, out of justice towards those who work and strive so hard to sustain our present and future generations through their vocational profession and their financial contributions towards the coffers of the state.

The above concerns are not merely based on our personal or organisational experiences but also on worldwide empirical studies as those referred to underneath.

Links of research:

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The Treatment and Rehabilitation Unit of the OASI Foundation, during 2016, catered for 205 persons with an addiction problem. Of these clients, 64 benefitted from a residential program and collectively made use of 2,568 bed nights. 95% of the residents making use of the OASI services are residents from Malta, while the rest come from Gozo. The OASI Residential Addiction Treatment Programme is a very intensive one based on the 12 Steps of AA, tailored for local needs on the Minnesota Model. This treatment method comprises an intensive residential therapy period of 8 weeks to 12 weeks, according to the individual’s requirement, followed by a tapering aftercare support on outpatient basis.

Besides residential treatment, OASI offers also the same 12 Steps therapeutic programme to clients on outpatients basis, through which persons who, for various reasons may not be able to attend a residential programme, such as residents from Gozo who have a good family support, mothers with young children or pregnant women. During 2016, 141 clients benefitted from this outpatient services which included session related to Outreach, Motivation, Continued Care and Aftercare.

This information was reported during the Annual General Meeting of the OASI Foundation, held last Sunday 19th March. For OASI this was the 2nd Annual General Meeting after that it had registered a new statute for the organisation that will assist it to manage its mission better in the present and future social conditions.

Besides the treatment given to addicted clients, the programme offers also individual and family group sessions on a weekly basis to family members and other persons significant to the clients in treatment. The latter service has the objective of helping people related to the clients in treatment to improve their understanding of addiction, to release their tension and frustrations and thus expectantly prepare them to provide a better quality of support to their loved ones once they leave treatment and start their social re-integration towards continued recovery.

 

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The first Annual General Meeting of the OASI Foundation was held on Sunday, 31st July 2016.

The Board of Directors thanked all those who have contributed to the work of the Foundation, gave an overview of what has been done so far and the charting of the new statute, and presented their vision for the way forward,

 

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On Sunday, the OASI Foundation celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a ceremony held in Gozo. In the late 80s, Fr. Emmanuel Cordina started encountering cases of drug experimentation in Gozo, and became aware of the lack of educational and preventive services in the sector.

With the help of a group of people, Fr. Cordina started the OASI project, and on Wednesday, the 26th of June 1991, the OASI Foundation was officially set up.

OASI said, as a house needs solid foundations to hold fast against the elements, so does society. The Founders always believed that children and youths are the foundations of society, and thus OASI started its work in prevention to help society strengthen future generations.

The next step for the Foundation was to set up a futuristic programme of prevention and care tailored to Gozitan needs as well as the national social milieu. A year after foundation, a programme was chosen that could offer OASI and its clients services tackling toxic substance abuse.

OASI said that its new social project was built around three central elements: preventive education, effective intervention and intensive therapeutic rehabilitation. The programme was based on the philosophy, pedagogy and therapy of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step Programme and the biopsychosocial Minnesota Model. These worthwhile decisions are still bearing fruit today.

Oven these 25 years of work in the community, OASI continued to grow and renew itself. On the 20th of November, 1998, a Residential Centre was opened and all services started also being offered on a residential basis. Over the years, OASI has twice had to increase the size of its Centre in Victoria, Gozo.

In 2009, a new Residential Home was opened, increasing the number of beds from 7 to 15. Over the years, OASI said that it has faced many problems, including a period between 2003 and 2004 when the residential centre had to close.

"This was a difficult time for OASI and its clients who were following the 12-Step Programme, which is only offered by OASI in Malta. In spite of these setbacks, assistance was still given to persons seeking assistance with social problems from OASI during this time."

In 2013, reform was carried out to help the Foundation strengthen its structures so as to be better prepared to face current problems as well as future ones. At this time, the Foundation was structured into 5 departments: Administration, Volunteers, Primary Prevention, Immediate Intervention, and the Treatment Unit.

This year, the Board of Directors has updated and registered a new statute, with the intention of putting the Foundation in a better position to carry out its work in the community with greater efficiency and civic responsibility.

OASI said that the new statute reflects the changes that happened in both the Foundation itself and society at large over the preceding 25 years.

This statute gives all friends of OASI, volunteers and benefactors, the opportunity to become ordinary members of the Foundation, with the right to attend Annual General Meetings and vote about internal changes and in elections to fill vacant posts on the Board of Directors.

The OASI Foundation said that its mission is to continue to spread and grow its educational, therapeutic and social work. "This can only be done thanks to the dedication and ceaseless work of all those who support the Foundation."

OASI gave special thanks to the Directors, all other volunteers, staff and benefactors, past and present, "thanks to whom OASI remains present, working for the benefit of society, to this day."

During Sunday's celebrations a memento was presented to Karista Stellini by Fr. Emmanuel Cordina, in appreciation of her voluntary services to the OASI Foundation.

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To commemorate the 23rd anniversary since the opening of the OASI Foundation, Director General Fr Emmanuel Cordina celebrated a thanksgiving Mass at its centre in Victoria.  During the ceremony, the Oasi Award was presented to Dorothy Meli, Maria Debono and Carmen Cordina for their help and support over the years.

Gozo Minister Anton Refalo emphasised that Oasi is a source of energy and hope for those in need and especially for youths. Present for this commemoration were members of the board of directors, staff, volunteers, benefactors, clients and their families.

The Foundation provides all its services free of charge.

Anyone wishing to support the foundation may send a donation to the director-general, Oasi Centre, 5, Triq Wied Sara, Victoria VCT2963.

 

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Each year on the 26th of June the world celebrates the International Day against Drugs promoted annually by the United Nations. But this same date is also OASI Foundation Day in Gozo, this OASI celebrates its 22nd Anniversary.

To commemorate this event, on the 26th of June, activities were held exclusively for current and past OASI service users. Then on Sunday, the 30th of June, at the St. Michael’s Hall of the OASI premises, the Bishop of Gozo, Mgr Mario Grech assisted by the Director General of the OASI Foundation, Fr. Emmanuel Cordina and Mgr. Carm Farrugia, Assistant Director of Caritas, celebrated the Holy Eucharist as a thanksgiving service.

Mgr Mario Grech emphasised that OASI has evolved throughout these 22 years thanks to the determination and aspiration of the founder, Fr. Emmanuel Cordina and the willpower of the clients who willingly sought help in order to overcome their problems. He enphasised that while it is positive that the civil authorities continue to support OASI financially they must enhance their willful efforts to bring to accountability those persons who are constantly threathening and robbing the lives of the weak members of our society.

Present for this celebration were the Board of Directors, the Minister for Gozo, Dr Anton Refalo, members of Parliament, staff, volunteers, benefactors, clients and their families.

The OASI Award presented by the OASI Director General this year went to the Gozo Diocese, Microsoft Malta & Exigy and to Mr. Joseph V. Refalo Jr and Mr. Noel Xerri, whose made it possible for OASI to improve its ICT performance. Afterwards everyone present joined in to socialise together with food and refreshments.

22 Years of Continuous and Caring Activity Throughout its existence, OASI has always believed that Prevention is better than cure. While OASI is mostly associated with problems related to addiction, its field of work is wider than one may think. In fact it has been very couragious to create alternative edutainment activities for all generation to keep them out of the mess of substance abuse. It has helped thousands of children, youths and adults alike.

Through its wide spectrum of caring services operated from its headquarters in Gozo OASI reached out to its service users coming from Malta and Gozo, who represent a cross-section of the whole leader scale of society. OASI made its stronghold in its educational and preventive program in all schools in Gozo.

Each year it reaches out to all students from an early stage at their primary level into the post-secondary level of their education, supporting them along the way with its preventive activities. In the last 12 months, 3641 children and youths benefitted from its preventive program apart several parental skills sessions and the various interventions on local and national radio and television stations. To these one has to add the Foundation’s official magazine, OASI.com with its valuable informative and educational articles, distributed to all the households in Gozo.

The most acknowledged OASI activity is its treatment & rehabilitation program based on the 12 Steps of AA, where thousands of persons suffering from intensive addiction problems have found a multidisciplinary team of dedicated professionals ready to assist them in their recovery from their addiction be it from drugs, alcohol or any other dependency.

Last year some 289 individuals benefited from the OASI intensive residential and outpatients therapeutic services, 38% of which are Gozitans.

All services are provided free of charge. Those who want to support OASI Foundation may send their contribution to the Director General, OASI Centre, 5, Triq Wied Sara, Victoria VCT2963, Gozo.

 

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On Sunday, 24th June 2012, the OASI Foundation organised an Open Day to celebrate the 20th Anniversary from the opening of the Administrative Centre at 5, Wied Sara Street, Victoria.

Visitors to the Centre benefited from a variety of activities organised for all the family, which included a Harley Davidson Motorbike Show, Bouncing Castle, Face painting, Guided tour of the OASI Premises, Ex-Clients’ Sharing, White Elephant Stall and a show by Greenfields. A section was also dedicated to Maltese Arts and a food and drinks stall.

The Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono, and the Minister for Justice, Dialogue and the Family, Chris Said, were present to support this important event for the Foundation, and unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

 

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The last edition of the prestigious annual event of Youth of the Year was held by OASI Foundation, last Saturday at Hotel Ta’ Cenc, Sannat, Gozo. Present for this national event were H.E The President of Malta Dr. George Abela, Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono, Members of Parliament and heads of voluntary organisations and various educational and civil departments.

H.E The President of Malta Dr. George Abela, Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono and Fr. Cordina in their address acknowledged publicly the immeasurable amount of voluntary activity done for no personal gain but solely and constantly for philanthropic reasons by many Maltese and Gozitan youths. They all emphasized that a person does voluntary work mainly with one aim in mind and heart – that of helping others in need. “Although there is no material gain, the emotional one cannot be estimated as is it enormous,” said Sarah Borg in her address to those present. Dr. Abela and the Gozo Minister emphasised on the work done by the OASI Foundation in the last 20 years, especially on creating this National Award that highlights the youths in a positive manner.

Fr. Cordina concluded his speech by publicily announcing that the OASI Foundation, voluntarily and out of respect for the hightest civil institution of the country the Presidency of the Republic, as from last Saturday edition of the YOYA Award will cease organising the event through a loyal handover of the Presidential Award for the Volunteers launched earlier this year under the auspicies of the H.E Dr. George Abela, President of Malta.

Four youths, two from Gozo and two from Malta qualified for the final event held last Saturday. The nominations were presented by various organisations around Malta and Gozo. As the tradition requested, the event started with the acknowledgement of all nominees with a certificate and a commemorative trophy presented to each one of the nominees by the Director General of OASI Foundation Fr. Emmanuel Cordina, assisted by last ambassador of Youth of the Year, Ms. Sarah Borg.

Naturally the most exciting moment of the evening was when Public Notary Dr. Enzo Refalo proclaimed the verdict of the Selection Committee. An outbreak of applause greeted the announcement of Maria Pellicano from Siggiewi, Malta as the Youth of the Year 2011. From the detailed report read out to the public present by Notary Enzo Refalo, Chairperson of the Selection Committee, it was evident that the members of this year’s committee had a tough decision on their hands, due to the great amount of initiatives and dedication manifested in all the nominees’ community work.

H.E The President of Malta Dr. George Abela presented Maria Pellicano with the Youth of the Year Shield for 2011.

Maria Pellicano was nominated from the group S.T.A.N.D (Strive towards ability not disability). She did not only assist S.T.A.N.D by supporting the members in their activities but also helped other initiatives whenever time permitted her. In fact Maria also does voluntary work with: Agenzija Appogg – she helps the families that in their daily needs by empowering them through the provision of basic social skills, which are fundamental in the running of a family, Sisters of Madre Tereza – helps in the organization and running up of the summer school and also with the “doposcoula” during the winter time, Faith Alive – helps youths aged from 13 years in their spiritual formation.

The OASI Foundation would like to congratulate Maria Pellicano, and all the other nominees for taking the time to see past the material value of what life offers and help others in need. The Foundation would also like to thank its sponsors who, through their generous donations have made this special event possible: the Department of Customer Care at the Ministry for Gozo, National Youths Council, Malta Community Chest Fund, Hotel Ta’ Cenc, Prostage Sound, CVC Communications, Lorne Cremona Photography, Michael Grech Financial Investment Srvice Ltd. and Lombard Bank Ltd.

 

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The 25th of June is every year a special day for the OASI Foundation especially this year when it celebrated its 20th Anniversary of sterling service by opening officially a new unit in the rehabilitation centre the foundation runs in Victoria, Gozo.

The OASI Foundation was constituted and publicly registered in June 1991 as an NGO, alias a voluntary and autonomous philanthropic organisation, free from any political, religious or sectarian allegiance and with the clear aims of creating a structure for the intervention, treatment and rehabilitation of persons with addiction conditions. Through out these years the OASI Foundation pursued innovative, educational and preventive means and methods that would address all people and human experiences in the field of substances and addiction in the Maltese islands without discrimination

During the inauguration and opening of the new treatment unit in Wied Sara Street, Victoria, Fr. Cordina, the Founder and the actual Director General of the OASI Foundation, emphasized on the various developments that happened within the Foundation throughout the years, always aimed at improving its programmes for the benefit of the service users. Throughout the years society at all its levels assisted constantly the OASI Foundation to continue fulfilling its duty. However and unfortunately certain obstacles persisted. The development of a materialistic liberal and hedonistic society often approved and promoted by the local media encourages a mentality of freedom to do whatever one deems accommodating to the ego of the new age free person. This has promoted the idea that getting stoned and done with the use of entertainment drugs, particularly cocaine is nothing wrong. But these challenges should not discourage OASI from continuing its mission out there among the outcaste members of society.

Mr. Anton Tabone, former and first Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono the current Minister for Gozo and Bishop for Gozo H.E Mario Grech all focused on the challenging circumstance that encircle the problem of addiction which unfortunately is on the increase. Awareness is fundamental towards this social issue, but one shall not forget the persons close to the addict, and the social circumstances that affect them directly and indirectly.

Mr. Anton Tabone in the presence of the Minister for Gozo as well as Justyne Caruana and of the many guests officially opened the new premises. The Bishop of Gozo blessed the new premises with a fervent prayer.

THE OASI FOUNDATION

OASI has 4 main objectives:

To educate people through all available educational means and within the various social environments in the community

To dissuade people in distress or crisis situations from experimenting with harmful substances or from indulging in risky behaviours

To assist individuals who acquire the disease of addiction in their process of recovery and social reintegration and

To give assistance and support to their families

Besides its Administration Department OASI offers 4 main service units:

PRIMARY PREVENTION

The eventual success of prevention lies in a community based program where individuals are assisted to live an environment free from stress and clean from the dangers of chemical substances and other human conducts that might lead to a self destructive behaviours. OASI Foundation strives to do exactly this.

In its quest to promote its statement of belief that “Life is Beautiful!” and worth living to its maximum, the Primary Prevention services are all geared to promote a positive living environment.

A description of the activities that the Primary Prevention Team organise during the year includes:

Preventive Education in Schools, in all Gozo schools starting from Primary Schools, continues through with all students at Secondary Level and into Post Secondary Institutions.

Parenting Skills are imparted periodically imparted to parents in schools, religious or other cmmunity centres.

The OASI Kids Club organises monthly activities for children aged 10 to 14, giventhem the opportunity to meet other children and together try out new and fun things, whilst being in a safe and supervised environment.

SOHLE – Summer OASI & HSBC Learning Experience – a 4 day camp based on the concept of “edutainment” is one of such activitoes. Its goal is to offer an opportunity for children to distance themselves from the hectic routine of the schooldays. Through games and cultural activities they are assisted to freely relate to others, relax and enjoy themselves in a pleasant and supervised environment.

Community Outreach is regularly maintained through:

Awareness Talk, at community level on different types of drugs and their effects on our physical, social and psychological self held in Parish Youth Centres or other local community centres.

OASI.com Magazine, OASI Foundation’s half yearly publication, is distributed to every household in Gozo. This publication includes internal news on OASI, articles on drugs, alcohol, life skills and general information that one would enjoy reading.

Local Media is opportunely used by the prevention team. The use of Local Radio Stations in towns and villages in Gozo in order to bring more information into the homes keeps the public continuously aware of what the OASI Foundation can do and is doing to help them in times of crisis and needs.

Riflessi Sajfin a 3 hour music concert held in mid-August in Marsalforn, Gozo is organised to encourage new local talent and simultaneously to promote the OASI Foundation’s preventive messages to the general public in a positive mixture of music, dance and song.

The Youth of the Year Award is annually organised to publicly acknowledge the various, voluntary work done by our youths for the good of our society. An Award Giving Ceremony is held under the patronage of His Excellency, the President of Malta, where all participants are publicly acclaimed for their initiatives. The climax of this event is the declaration of one of the participants as their “ambassador” in society for all the youth volunteers during the following year.

IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION

Intensive awareness campaigns gradually make people seek immediate assistance. OASI was thus out of necessity compelled to activate a service aligned towards crisis intervention, whereby persons at risk are assisted to acquire or strengthen the basic values of life, beauty and happiness as a recovery strategy from their distress.

OASI Secondary Prevention takes notice of and minds any situation that may lead to the use or abuse of harmful substances. Most of our clients come from Gozo but include also clients from Malta and also foreign residents. Issues dealt with include child and youth assistance, parental and communication skills between couple, marriage counseling, remedial therapy to accompany treatment for depression and analytic therapy.

THE ALTERNATIVE ADDICTION TREATMENT PROGRAMME

The aims of the OASI treatment and rehabilitation programs and their related facilities are to aid persons with addiction problems to recover their personal health and to re-establish themselves in their family and social life.

From its outset, OASI Foundation embarked on the development of a treatment and rehabilitation project for addicts and alcoholics with the development of an alternative treatment possibility to complement the existing treatment programmes run in Malta. In fact, a year after the Foundation was instituted a therapeutic program was selected and approved by the Board of Directors. This program based on the 12 Steps of AA as developed in Minnesota, USA was immediately adopted, tailored out for local needs and put in action at the end of 1992 as an out-patients treatment programme. For the first time in Malta a treatment program unit was opened to treat persons with drugs or alcohol problems for both genders within the same treatment program.

Non-Gozo residents addicts and alcoholics encountered various obstacles when they sought treatment in Gozo due to the difficulty to cross over the channel. With the aim to give the latter the opportunity to try the 12 Steps treatment programme, in 1996, OASI started extending its headquarters. In October 1998 OASI opened its doors for a new challenge, a residential treatment unit using its scanty physical facilities existing then to host 7 people with drug and alcohol related problems. This year the new residential unit was officially opened, catering for a maximum of 15 residents at one time.

Residential Treatment Programme is for hard core addicts due to alcoholism, drugs, gambling or other related addictive behaviours. OASI offers an alternative programme from those offered on island Malta, based on the 12 Steps model and endowed with a very intensive therapy. The treatment is supported by another intensive social reintegration programme at the OASI Half Way House.

Out-Patient Treatment Programme is offered minors or persons with initial addiction problems, where clients came to OASI Centre for one-hour one to one counselling sessions on weekly appointments and also to support group therapy.

Family Support Programme helps family members of addicted persons, including play therapy for child to recover from their co-dependency resulting from stress due their close relationship with the disease of addiction in their family environment.

HALF WAY HOUSE

All clients in recovery are made aware of the fact that the transition from the protective residential setting to a mainstream society is a delicate period in their recovery process – another milestone to be reached. Therefore, although at the end of their primary residential treatment at the OASI Treatment & Rehabilitation Unit clients may find a supportive family environment or an understanding employer to return to, for their treatment programme to persist they require more structural support and are expected to spend a period of time in a residential continued care program (RCCP) at the HWH Unit.

The philosophy of the HWH maintains that through abstinence from mind-altering substances, participation in all the Twelve Steps and the practice in self-discipline and honesty, the recovering person can develop the tools necessary towards a long term, contented sobriety in the outside community. Therefore setting of the OASI HWH provides a social environment that can assist residents to develop further the coping mechanisms and skills necessary to re-enter family, work and society with a lifestyle pattern marked by self-discipline and responsibility free from antisocial attitudes.

CONCLUSION

The OASI Foundation Management is in the hand of the Board of Directors. Through the implementation of the above mentioned services and others, OASI Foundation is providing a sterling social work in the caring profession to the benefit of our community. It has been, is and will remain a key factor in keeping our young generations as free as possible from the abuse of substances and hazardous lifestyles.

 

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The 18th edition of the prestigious annual event of Youth of the Year was held by OASI Foundation at Hotel Ta’ Cenc, Sannat. Present for this national event were H.E The President of Malta Dr. George Abela, and Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono, Members of Parliament and heads of voluntary organisations and various educational and civil departments.

H.E The President of Malta Dr. George Abela and Minister for Gozo in their address acknowledged publicly the immeasurable amount of voluntary activity done for no personal gain but solely and constantly for philanthropic reasons by many Maltese and Gozitan youths.

The aim of this event, annually organised by the OASI Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry for Gozo and the National Youths Council, is to publicly acknowledge and appraise the voluntary work in society carried out by many Maltese youths. This year was the 18th edition of the Award.

Nine youths, eight from Malta and one from Gozo qualified for the final event. The nominations were presented by various organisations around Malta and Gozo.

H.E The President of Malta Dr. George Abela presented Sarah Borg with the Youth of the Year Shield for 2010. She will keep this shield for the next 12 months until the time comes for her to hand it over to next year’s Youth of the Year.

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