The Malta Federation of Organisations Persons with Disability (MFOPD) is a voluntary Non Governmental Organisation enrolled with the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations: VO – VO/0042. It was founded 47 years ago with the aim to bring together associations working on voluntary basis in the disability sector to promote and raise awareness about the different disabilities.
MFOPD is the national umbrella organisation for the disability sector and is a member of the European Disability Forum (EDF), Inclusion Europe, Inclusion International and the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL). It also represents the voice of persons with disability on the relevant government structures, such as the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), the Malta EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC) and the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD), among others.
Membership within the MFOPD is open for organisations of and/or for persons with disability. Individual and corporate members are also accepted.
The Federation has 19 enrolled organisations within its umbrella structure and was also the catalyst for another national association working for the betterment of the disabled in the employment sector – namely the Malta Association of Supported Employment. This umbrella organisation plays a very important role as it is the platform where all organisations have the opportunity to inform themselves and support and show solidarity with each other.
On this platform all issues for all different impairments are equally important and are accordingly tackled on a national level by the Federation.
MFOPD does its utmost to support all issues brought forward by its member organisations. It is civil society’s mouthpiece for persons with disability on a national level and is fully represented within the relevant structures of government and administration as the official voice in question. MFOPD is constantly involved in national and European events linked to issues that impact persons with disabilities and is a constant watchdog on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability locally.
The first council of MFOPD with the then Minister for Education, later President of Malta, H.E. the late Agatha Barbara:
Sections of the manuscripts of the meetings and history of the early years of the MFOPD by its first Secretary General, Mr. J.P. Vella.
MFOPD has, throughout the years, embarked on various initiatives, both locally and abroad, in favour of persons with disability. Since its foundation in 1970, MFOPD has been instrumental in:
- Ensuring that society in general understands and upholds the rights and needs of persons with disability and to ensure that past stigmas, misconceptions and outright injustices and lack of social, economic, cultural and political integration for persons with disabilities remain a thing of the past.
- That the government authorities focus much more effort on the rights and needs of persons with disability. MFOPD’s lobbying has been noted by the authorities and, gradually, from a department responsible for the ‘handicapped’, government institutions were progressively set up which included a Parliamentary Secretariat focused on our needs, a Commission and a Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the total independence and focusing of the specific government agency working in the disability sector, the enactment of various laws, regulations and legal notices focusing on the rights and needs of the disability sector and the presence of specific board and authority members within government agencies and institutions which represent the disability sector within civil society.
Naturally, there is so much more to be done in our field. The rights and positive advancement of the disability sector in Malta can only be achieved by a strong national disability federation which works hard for the rights of its members, not only by means of local initiatives but also by means of various projects, including EU funded projects, which further our cause.
MFOPD is led by elected officials at the Federation’s annual general meeting every two years. The present officials of the MFOPD are:
Marthese Mugliette – President
Ms Mugliette represents the Federation on the Civil Society Committee and has been doing so for about six years now. She is a member on the committee of the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability, formerly known as KNPD. She has been representing the MFOPD on the KNPD / CRPD’s committee for years and makes sure that MFOPD’s members are kept well informed about what is happening in the disability sector and also forwards the members’ suggestions through the right channels.
Ms Mugliette was the person who, for five whole years, with the constant support of Mr Michael Evans, then President of the European Union of Supported Employment, worked incessantly to introduce Supported Employment in Malta. As President of MFOPD, she communicated and organised other NGOs and government entities to come together and founded the Malta Association of Supported Employment (MASE).
In 2015 and 2016, MASE implemented a professional Supported Employment program for disabled and disadvantaged persons which was financed by the authorities. Ms Mugliette was the Executive Director for this program which was a huge success; registering 531 successes in a year, nearly double the amounts requested by the government authorities whilst using up merely 60% of allocated funding. Since September 2016, Marthese was also appointed as President of MASE. For 10 years she was the President of the Down Syndrome Association Malta. Currently she acts as its Advisor. She has been working on a voluntary basis within the disability sector for the past 25 years.
Ms Mugliette is a parent of a 30 year old daughter who has Down syndrome.
Massimo Ellul – Secretary General
lMassimo Ellul is active in Malta and other countries in the commercial, social, political and philanthropic fields of activity. An international marketor by trade and specialisation, Max Ellul chairs a consultancy organisation in Europe and the Middle East.
He has had published various literary works, both in Malta and in the UK and US. His published works include Positive Supported Employment (2016), Citta’ Rohan, Vol.1 and Vol. 2 (Zebbug Local Council, Malta, 2012, 2015), The Green Cross in Malta (Watermelon Publishers, Malta, 2012), The Sword and the Green Cross (Authorhouse, US, 2011), The Green Eight Pointed Cross (Watermelon Publishers, Malta 2004 and its Russian and Hungarian translation in 2012 and 2015; Paravitta Publishing House, Russian Federation), Musings of the Soul and The Colours of Life (Franz Publishers, US, 2003), and Theatre of the Mind (Noble House Publishers, UK, 2003).
Ellul is the chief executive of a consultancy group and is the only Maltese to be given the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Marketors of the City of London and the status of Liveryman of the Company. In 2005, Ellul was the first Maltese to be granted the Freedom of the City of London as Citizen and Marketor of London.
Massimo Ellul sits on the board of directors or is the advisor to the board of various firms and organisations in and outside Malta. His firm has been solicited on various occasions to give consultancy services to a number of government ministries and entities in regions as diverse as Malta, Slovenia, Italy, Dubai, Al Ain, the Sultanate of Oman, the United Kingdom, United States, Hungary and others. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Companion of the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management, amongst other international institutions.
Ellul was also a visiting lecturer at the Lycee Privee La Providence in France and lectured marketing and marketing strategy. US President Barak Obama awarded Max the President’s Call to Service Award in 2011 for his services within the community. In 2013, Massimo was elected as Secretary General of the Malta Federation of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and, in 2014, was one of the founders of the Malta Association for Supported Employment. He is the Malta delegate for the European Disability Forum, the European Union of Supported Employment and the World Association of Supported Employment.
Ronald Galea – Treasurer
Ronald Galea is the founder and Director of Fondazzjoni Wens and has been running this Foundation for the last 28 years. This Foundation caters for the needs of intellectually and or physically persons with disability by providing residential homes in Kalkara and Paola.
During 1942 and 1960 there was an epidemic of poliomyelitis better known as Polio in Malta and Gozo. This virus had effected millions of people all over the world among which was Mr Galea himself.
Ronald was born in 1958 to a family in Gzira. Growing up was normal except from coping with a disability, playing football and falling many times; getting up and playing again. It was not easy for Ronald’s parents to find the right school for him. Finally their appeal for help was taken up by Stella Maris College which was a few blocks away from his residence. They offered transport, books and free schooling.
Growing up Ronald was very athletic and participated in various sport activities at the Physically Handicapped Rehabilitation fund. At the age of 17 his love for sports landed him a place in the team that represented Malta in the Paralympic Stoke Mandeville games in England.
Turning 18 was another chapter in his life as together with his friends, Ronald founded the ‘handicapped’ youth society. This society was one of its kind as the committee members were all physically disabled. A lot of work was done with families and their children. Many times parents would ask the same question ‘what will happen to my son/daughter after I die?’ This plea for help kept surfacing from time to time in Ronald’s thoughts, which he could not forget.
His interest in working for the betterment of persons with an impairment continued, so much so that he visited other societies in various countries to gain experience and knowledge. In 1987 he was invited to visit a residential home in Nottingham which catered mostly for autistic and intellectually disabled persons. He spent two weeks in this home, which were enough to give him the drive to start a similar project in Malta.
In 1989, with the help of the Handicapped Youth Society and KNPD, the first home in the community for disabled people opened its doors in Paola. This project was only the beginning as another two homes were opened in Paola, and two more homes in Kalkara, with a total of 45 residents in their care.
Connie Carabott – Vice President
Volunteering has always attracted me and it gives me great satisfaction. As a youth, I used to go to the Little Sisters of the Poor to take care of the elderly. I enjoyed them talking about their past.
Throughout our lives we pass through different circumstances and thus we have different priorities. Growing up a family requires much attention. For this reason I reduced the time of volunteering.
In 1986, when I was just 27 years old, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). It is not easy living with the condition but life goes on.
The MS Society convened for the first time in October 1997. I joined as a member and this meant re-entering the world of volunteering, this time in the disability sector. Thanks to the Association of MS I met new people as well as larger organizations. I was chosen to represent the MS Society on the national umbrella organization, the Malta Federation of Organizations Persons with Disability (MFOPD). The meetings take place once a month.
When the MS Society chose another representative, I started representing the Movement in Favour of Rights of Persons with Disability (MFRPD) as in the mean time I had become also a member of this Movement.
In 2005, MFOPD chose me to represent it on the Malta Community Chest Fund (MCCF). As at to date I still represent MFOPD on this Foundation. I attended several conferences abroad on behalf of MFOPD, such as in Belgium, Spain and Rome.
My personal aim is to urge other people like me and also those with different conditions to move forward and never give up. Today there is a lot of help around us. Take advantage of this support.