When the mayor of San Lawrenz, Noel Formosa, agreed to meet with GITH to discuss all things Gozo-past, present and future, we jumped at the chance to ask his opinion on how the pandemic will affect the island in the months to come.
It is rare to find an individual so completely in love with the indigenous heritage of their island whilst also looking ahead and embracing the potential opportunities which progress and change have to offer. As Noel describes it, “We must stand with our feet firmly in our roots whilst looking up to the sky and the future.”
There is no doubt that Gozo will face economic challenges in the months to come. Firstly, by the inevitably gradual resuming of the tourism industry and secondly, by the need for locals to tighten their purse strings and watch the pennies when it comes to the local industry. Noel believes passionately that both a sense of unity and creative thinking will be key to our success, and feels confident that we have resources, traditions and talent enough to regenerate ourselves and “rediscover our potential.”
Noel’s ideas resonate hugely with GITH and our objective of uniting the community for collective success and suggests that an incentive programme would be a great way to increase local trade and local strategic thinking. He also ponders, ‘How can we use social media as part of this regeneration?’ A man after our own hearts.
What particularly stands out in our conversation is Noel’s insight into the potential of the island; both of its inherent worth and of its people. We were fascinated to hear that our beloved Dwejra is actually visited yearly by a group of USA scientists who study the geology and the sinkholes of the area. We can see why Noel chose the famous site and its potential as the subject of his thesis for his MA in Maltese studies. You may have seen his recent social media posts documenting the replanting of vandalized trees in Dwejra.
Our community is hugely passionate and committed to the many voluntary events on the island including the festas, music and drama and the half marathon to name but a few. With this level of dedication at our fingertips, Noel believes we must apply the same communal resourcefulness in regenerating our economy.
As for the current situation, we agree that Gozo’s solidarity in each village has become more vivid and steadfast than ever, with programmes of support and care for the most vulnerable in our society, instigated by individuals and Parishes alike. Part of his duties as Mayor is to know his community. He has a list of those in San Lawrenz living alone whom he helps and checks on each week. He also suggests that it bodes well for our future to have a stronger sense of social responsibility at this time.
The future may feel uncertain, but with men like Noel Formosa in positions of authority, we feel more confident than ever that Gozo will flourish.