Czech Republic: Roma Spirit award goes to director of primary school that includes Roma and to Romea.cz co-founder
The fifth annual Roma Spirit awards in the Czech Republic have been given in five regular categories and two special ones. The gala awards ceremony evening at the Prague Crossroads on Thursday, 10 December, International Human Rights Day, included performances by Antonín Gondolán, the band Terne Čhave and Natálie Bagárová.
Petr Torák, the Romani man who emigrated from the Czech Republic to the UK, became a police officer in Peterborough, and became a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in October, also participated in the gala evening. An award in memoriam was given by the Main Jury to Milena Hübschmannová, the founder of Romani Studies in the Czech Republic, for her lifetime achievement.
Through her study of Indology, Hübschmannová found her way to the Romani people of Europe and began to intensively study their culture and language and to support their emancipation. It was she who urged the greatest Romani poet in the former Czechoslovakia, Tera Fabiánová, to write down her verses, and it was she who supported the publication of the famous book "I Was Born Under a Lucky Star" (Narodila jsem se pod šťastnou hvězdou); Hübschmannová's daughter Tereza Hrabovská received the award on behalf of her mother.
In the NGO category the jury expressed its appreciation for the IQ Roma servis civic association and its many years of successful work in the area of debt relief in the Czech Republic, as the group has aided hundreds of Romani people with avoiding the debt trap. In the category of business/employer projects aimed at social aid and support for the Romani community, the award went to the Trmice Primary School, which had just been lauded the day before by the US Embassy.
That school successfully uses inclusive education methods and, in addition to the customary subjects, also instructs children in important social skills. The Trmice Primary School is implementing instructional methods tested abroad under the supervision of a partner school from England.
In the individual category the Roma Spirit jury gave the award to Daniela Cincibusová. As a foster mother she has raised 23 children, 15 of whom are Romani.
All of her foster children today are educated and permanently employed. Ms Cincibusová also works for Caritas at a drop-in facility for children and youth in a socially excluded locality in Liberec Region.
In the media category this year's award went to Zdeněk Ryšavý, the co-founder of news server Romea.cz. This news website augments the content of the mainstream media in the Czech Republic by reporting information that other media outlets either do not want to report on or are unable to report on.
This year the Roma Spirit awards were enriched by a new category, Romani Culture. This award was bestowed in collaboration with the Museum of Roma Culture in Brno and was given in memoriam to Andrej Giňa, the author, musician and organizer of cultural events who always consistently wrote in the Romani language and who passed away this year at the age of 79.
For the municipality/city category, the organizers of the Roma Spirit awards in the Czech Republic received just a single nomination for the town of Velké Hamry and its programs focused in integrating the Romani minority. The town takes a proactive, socially inclusive approach to all its inhabitants and has done so for five years.
The jury said that while it greatly appreciates the approach taken by the town leadership, due to a lack of other nominations, no award could be given in that category. There was also no award in the Good Deed of the Year category, which is reserved for those who save human life.
A special award was also given by organizers to the excellent musician Antonín Gondolán. He performed his hits "Růže" (Rose) and "Čekej a neplakej" (Wait and Don't Cry) during the course of the evening.
The Main Jury this year included former Czech Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb, the co-organizer of Roma Spirit in the Czech Republic; Ľubomíra Slušná-Franz, the creator of the Roma Spirit concept; Slovak diplomat and politician Magdaléna Vášáryová; Michael Žantovský, director of the Václav Havel Library; Jana Horváthová, director of the Museum of Romani Culture; and Czech MP Ivan Gabal, who is also a sociologist. The aim of the Roma Spirit project is to popularize and support the active efforts of all who contribute to improving the situation of Romani people in the Czech Republic.
Roma Spirit wants to create a platform for the presentation of positive, real contributions to this effort, as this is the only way we will all succeed in working on the prejudices that are widespread in Czech society. The implementation of this international award is undertaken in the Czech Republic by the Michael Kocáb Foundation (Nadace Michaela Kocába) and Open Society (Otevřená společnost, o.p.s.).
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