The Slovenia Times

Opeka receives this year's Bled Strategic Forum award


Bled - Slovenian priest and missionary Pedro Opeka is the recipient of this year's Distinguished Partner Award, an accolade bestowed at the Bled Strategic Forum. He has been honoured for his humanitarian work and fight against poverty in Madagascar.

Opeka has dedicated decades of his life to serving the poorest and the most vulnerable. He is the founder of two humanitarian associations, Akamasoa (Good Friends) and Antenne Akamasoa, operating throughout Madagascar, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said in presenting the award.

"Together with volunteers from Madagascar he has managed to build a city of hope for more than 25,000 people. Thus they got their voice and a decent life."

During his thirty years at the mission, he has built 4,000 houses, sports halls, churches and schools, and provided jobs and education to more than 500,000 Malagasy. There are currently 14,000 children in schools built by both associations.

Opeka is a strong advocate of forest protection and forestation. He plants over 50,000 trees together with young people every year, Logar said.

As part of humanitarian aid provided by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, Opeka provides basic medical care to 100,000 people, including those affected by Covid-19, the minister said, noting that the aid was also used to ensure food security for children and the most vulnerable during the epidemic.

"Pedro Opeka creates a better society every day, bringing hope and better life to those living in poverty," Logar said.

Opeka thanked him for the award, which he sees as an acknowledgement of "our fight against poverty and the help we offer to people living on landfills". "The award will strengthen us and encourage us to continue with our fight for development of people who were forgotten by the society," he said.

He also thanked the government and Prime Minister Janez Janša for the humanitarian aid provided to the poor families affected by Covid-19. "We are very thankful to Slovenia for the help and active solidarity."

Opeka stressed that there were millions of people around the world who were suffering and that this was a challenge and disgrace for the whole world.

"Without social rights, there will be no peace in the world and we all wish peace, in Europe or in all five continents. It is urgent that every international forum thinks of those who do not have decent lives," he said.

He thanked Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state of the Holy See, and Pope Francis, who had visited Opeka two years ago and "expressed support not only in words but with substantial support".

The event was also addressed by Aloysius John, secretary general of the Caritas Internationalis, who stressed the importance of the work of local charity organisations such as Caritas and Akamasoa, especially in the light of the Covid-19 Pandemic.


More from Politics