From my Hands…To Yours! – by Albert Zammit – Part 1

References have been made during our membership meeting ‘Ward u Zahar’, of which I myself was a member – more so a member of the committee that brought on the ideal that the situations of a widower, and that of a separated individual are different to a significant degree. That which was being said was beneficial to separated individuals, yet was causing significant harm to widowers. That which is beneficial to one individual, after all, may not be applicable to another individual to the extent that it causes detriment. It was this situation that moved me to approach the Chairman of the group with the idea that the widowed individuals of our group should form a separate branch while social activities were to remain being carried out in unison. Our discussions however were to be catered to the singular contexts of widowhood and marital separation.

Days later, on the eve of Good Friday in 1997 I found myself in a discussion with 2 widows – Joyce Wright and Carmen Muscat, where I shared with them the idea, and in turn they shared with me their enthusiasm, and we began working on it. We went on several media outlets, we were even interviewed by several newspapers – and the applications started coming in. We were surprised by the amount of response that we received. More than 80 people were interested to join us. That meant that what was supposed to be a section of the group ‘Ward u Zahar’ would outnumber the main group, therefore it no longer made sense to be just a section of a group, so we began working toward creating an entirely new one that specifically catered to widowers from a young to middle age.

I was listening to a discussion on a television programme on an English channel, about the struggles that widowers in the United Kingdom were facing. One person remarked that widowers could not be treated like the mainstream members of society, as they are functioning ‘minus one’. It was from there that the name of our group originated, after a discussion of my own with Joyce and Carmen who agreed that ‘Minus One’ would be a suitable name for the group, and for what it represented – however, we were still concerned that the name would carry with it a negative connotation, which is why we named our newsletter H.E.A.R.T.S – with the meaning of Healing, Empowering and Remembering Treasured Soulmates. We outlined our statute, and made arrangements to hold our first meeting. Our first meeting took place in Floriana, on the 28th of June 1997, which is what we consider to be the birth of ‘Minus One’.

The purpose of this meeting was to inaugurate the group, and to assign a provisional committee so that our activities could commence immediately. There were other issues to consider, amongst which was to find a place where to congregate. Our first activities took place during the summer of 1997, and these activities had to take place in public spaces. It was thanks to the intervention of the then Director of the Customs Department , who was able to provide us with the opportunity to make use of the foyer of the Education Department, which was then directed by the Honourable Minister Evarist Bartolo. It was there that we held our first official meeting.

Today I can say proudly that that from that time onward this group has helped hundreds of widowers to get back on their feet after they found themselves in the situation of having to be both father and mother the group has been through a lot since then, but this is a story for another time.

to be continued