On its 25th anniversary, Malteser Albania received the “Mother Teresa” decoration for its humanitarian activities in favour of the weakest social groups from the President of the Republic of Albania, Ilir Meta. The ceremony took place on Saturday 7 February in the hall dedicated to Cardinal Mikel Koliqi, hero of the Catholic faith under Communism, at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Shkodra.
The reason for the award, granted on the initiative of the Rector of the University of Shkodra, Professor Suzana Golemi, stated: “For its noble work in offering humanitarian aid to poor citizens, as well as spiritual revitalization and support for the weaker social categories. For its contribution to the education and welfare of children without parental care, as well as the provision of medical and nutritional assistance to those in need. Its volunteers have always flanked the Albanian institutions and people during humanitarian crises and natural disasters such as that of Kosovo refugees in Albania and the floods and earthquakes in the Shkodra region.”
After the greetings of the Archbishop of Shkodra-Pult, Monsignor Angelo Massafra, President of the Episcopal Conference of Albania, and of the new Apostolic Nuncio to Albania, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, President Meta thanked the Executive Director of Malteser Albania, Marku Maranaj, saying: “The decoration I award today on behalf of the Albanian citizens is an act of the deepest gratitude for your contribution and your mission”.
The Executive Director of Malteser recalled the Order of Malta’s longstanding mission in favour of the poorest sections of Albanian society and also praised the work performed during these months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Order’s volunteers have been distributing masks, therapies, oxygen machines and food since the beginning of the emergency, providing 400 people with a free hot meal every Sunday.
The integration of the Roma community is another priority of the Order of Malta’s volunteers, who have for years been managing centres and specialised staff to help Roma young people find decent work.
The Order of Malta’s Ambassador to Albania, Stefano Palumbo, intervened in the ceremony by reading the letter of congratulations from the Lieutenant of the Grand Master. In his message Fra’ Marco Luzzago thanked the Order of Malta’s volunteers in Albania for the dedication and professionalism they have demonstrated over the years, always ready to serve with a deeply Christian spirit.