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Gypsy Spirit 2009: Prizes for those working for the Roma community

Prague, 27.10.2009 7:53, (ROMEA)

The designers of the Gypsy Spirit prizes are hoping to generate recognition for successful Roma integration projects. "The aim is to create a tradition of appreciating work for the Roma community," Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb told journalists in Prague yesterday. Kocáb was inspired to develop the project after seeing it at work in Slovakia.

Through the process of assessing successful projects in support of the Roma, Kocáb intends to create a new space in which to present positive examples of integration. "We are interested in projects that produce measurable results and represent real assistance to the Roma community,” Kocáb said.

The new prize is part of the international Decade of Roma Inclusion project involving the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. "The basic aim of the Decade is to improve the lives of the Roma at all levels,” said Gabriela Hrabaňová, who is organizing the project in the Czech Republic. Hrabaňová said there is a need to improve the quality of Roma housing, health, education and employment in particular. "This includes breaking down prejudices and stereotypes. We believe prejudices are often the ultimate barrier to the full integration of the Roma,” Hrabaňová said.

Prizes will be announced in five categories. A jury headed by former Czech President Václav Havel will decide winners in the categories of NGO contributions, business contributions, extra-curricular activities for young Roma, and individuals who have made a long-term contributed to improving the position of the Roma. A fifth prize will award the action of the year which most contributed to protecting human life or to improving its quality and will be decided by selected Romani representatives from several nonprofit organizations.

Results will be announced by the organizers on 1 December at a celebratory ceremony at the Pražská křižovatka (“Prague Crossroads”) venue in the former Church of St. Anne in Prague. The popular Roma group Gipsy.cz will perform.

Projects for Roma integration can be nominated until 13 November. Information about the prizes is available on the www.gypsyspirit.eu web pages.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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