A librarian by day, electronic musician by night and disabilities activist in-between, Leone Sciberras is the latest addition to join the PN brigade ahead of a looming general election.
Through his determination and vision, Sciberras is paving the way for better minority rights, smashing stereotypes surrounding people with disabilities in the process.
Sciberras has made it his life’s mission to make the world more inclusive for disabled people. At 12, he completely lost his sight but was determined to study, work and live independently.
Today, he’s a 37-year-old administration officer at Malta Libraries, taking care of the “talking books” section. It allows other visually-impaired people or anyone who can’t read traditional books to access Malta’s literature resources.
“Of course it’s a challenge but it hasn’t stopped me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do. I’m in my last year of a BA honours in business management, while I’ve graduated in IT information. I’ve presented on radio and TV. Now I experiment with music. The DJ life gave me a real confidence boost,” he told Lovin Malta.
He’s also the latest candidate to join the Nationalist Party.
When asked about why he’s chosen to run with PN, Sciberras said it wasn’t a decision because of partisan ties, but because he truly believes in the party’s vision for disabled people.
“I feel we need to look at people as individuals not what colour, gender, religion or political party they represent. For me, as Leone, I look at people and their potential. With PN, I feel they’ve always been the party that had a vision for disabled people, they opened the door for disabled people to participate in society.”
“Before the 2001 Equal Opportunity Act, it was difficult to integrate. There was a time when someone in a wheelchair or someone like me couldn’t access public spaces,” the candidate said.
“This Act, which was passed under PN, helped me integrate into school. Sure, I got some qualifications late but I’m not ashamed. I’m proud of where I am now,” he added.
“Having said that, the Labour Party isn’t anything less. I just simply believe in the future of PN.”
He hopes that through his new-found political journey, Malta can continue to address issues of social and educational inclusion.
If Sciberras wins a seat in Parliament, he’s pledged to use his voice for minorities, whose voices aren’t often heard.
“It’s in this vein that I’ll be contesting on the next general election. I believe in the motto ‘nothing about us without us’. You need people with disabilities to fight for others because they truly understand what is needed,” he said.
The makeup of Malta’s Parliament has been a hot topic in recent months, with a controversial bill looking to add up to 12 extra seats to counter the blatant gender deficit.
Sciberras believes these measures, like all positive discrimination, treat the symptoms but not the root causes.
“I believe in giving a man a fishing rod and not the fish. Sure, give a man a fish at first so he doesn’t starve – but then, teach him how to feed himself. When it comes to gender quotas, I believe in the measure, but it’s not addressing the root of the reason why women don’t join politics,” he explained.
“We need to give people tools and human rights to be independent. For example, let’s say there’s a child that’s always dependent on their mother to go out on the weekend. It’s a burden. Teach him how to be financially independent, to work and he’ll have freedom and responsibility to go out on his own.”
“People like me need more opportunities for work. Not just precarious work but work that they can do without pleading to employers to hire them or forming part of a mandatory quota.”
Under Maltese law, companies face penalties when they do not meet the minimum standard for disabled people as a percentage of their full workforce.
In the end, Sciberras believes that it’s not the disability that’s the hurdle but the society that we live in.
“I have a guide dog, I live alone and I commute to work every day. If I find an obstacle on my bus commute, who is holding me from going to work? My disability or society? It’s society. Together we can remove these ‘obstacles’ and make life more inclusive.”
Whether he becomes a PN MP or not, his life motto remains the same, be the protagonist in your own life.
“Everyone has ups and downs in life. But not everyone manages to get on their feet. I believe everyone has the potential to bring something to the table. Together we can make a difference.”
“You need to believe in yourself first and be the protagonist of your own story, that’s what is important,” he finished.
Tag someone that needs to read this!