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The Pride of Slovenia, Missionary Pedro Opeka, Has Been Nominated for the Council of Europe Prize for Exceptional Humanitarian Achievements

The Madagascar-based missionary, Pedro Opeka, is undoubtedly a Slovenian for whom it can be said that he is the personification of goodness, especially in terms of selfless help to fellow human beings when they find themselves in distress. While the vast majority resort to pleasant but empty words, the effects of Opeka’s work are visible and tangible. That is also why there is no shortage of people who only have good things to say about him. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, headed by Minister Dr Anže Logar, is very aware of this fact and has therefore decided to nominate the missionary Pedro Opeka for the Raoul Wallenberg Prize of the Council of Europe for exceptional humanitarian achievements.

Missionary Pedro Opeka, whose missionary work spans over the last thirty years, and the volunteers of the Akamasoa and Antenne Akamasoa associations, have already helped more than 500 thousand poor Malagasy people. “The pride of Slovenia, the symbol of goodness and a bearer of hope. The Council of Europe Prize would gain extra weight and importance with Pedro Opeka. Let’s hope for the best!” said Minister of Digitalisation, Mark Boris Andrijanič.

The Raoul Wallenberg Prize is awarded by the Council of Europe, of which any European country can become a member, as long as it accepts the rule of law and guarantees human rights and freedoms to all of its citizens. The prize is awarded in cooperation with the Swedish Government and the Hungarian Parliament. The prize is presented every two years to an individual, a group or an organisation operating within the mission of the Council of Europe to commemorate the achievements of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who protected members of the Jewish community in Budapest in 1944 and 1945. The prize of ten thousand euros will be awarded on the 17th of January 2022, at the organisation’s headquarters in Strasbourg.

Opeka has established more than 18 villages with all the necessary infrastructure
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that Missionary Opeka’s work over the years and his great self-sacrifice make him a worthy candidate for the prize that would significantly help raise awareness of his humanitarian work. For decades, the nominee has dedicated his life to working with the poorest and most vulnerable Malagasy people.

In the 30 years of his work in Madagascar, he has established more than 18 villages with all the necessary infrastructure. He helped provide education for children – in kindergartens, primary, secondary, and vocational schools, and recently even established a university. With the help of the Foreign Ministry’s humanitarian aid, Opeka managed to provide basic health care for as many as 100 thousand Malagasy people during the epidemic, and he also provided food security for children and the most vulnerable people.

Create something from nothing, more from less, homes from landfills, warmth from the cold
Former Archbishop Anton Stres once said that Opeka shows exceptional sacrifice, organisational ability, courage and a sense of responsibility. Akamasoa includes not only residential areas but also schools, healthcare centres and hospitals. “The way of life lived by Peter Opeka shows that it is possible to create something from nothing, more from less, homes from landfills, warmth from the cold,” Stres said, among other things. Former president of the Programme Council of the national media outlet RTV, Mitja Štular, who helped organise two of Opeka’s visits to Slovenia, emphasised that Slovenians felt that Opeka is an exceptional man who does great things. “Opeka remains fully committed to his work and has been engaged in it for thirty years now, without seeking any self-promotion. He is not an artificially created product of the media or influential groups that work only for their own benefit,” he added in admiration.

This year, Opeka received the Bled Strategic Forum award for creating a better society every day, which brings hope and a better life to the poor. As Minister Dr Anže Logar said, Opeka teaches young people to respect and care for nature and also advocates for afforestation and forest protection in Madagascar. Opeka believes that poverty is not destiny and that man can be stronger than his fate. This is shown by his beliefs and lifestyle, which he proves with his work, day by day. He also tries to instil this in the minds of all those who ask for his help.

The other proposers of Pedro Opeka for the Raoul Wallenberg Prize are Caritas Slovenia, the Missionary Centre of Slovenia and the Radio Ognjišče radio station, in addition to the international proposer Vincentian Family Homeless Alliance (Famvin Homeless Alliance) from Rome.

Nina Žoher

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