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US Embassy to the Czech Republic gives Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award to the "We Aid Refugees" organization

18.12.2016 19:38
A team of Czech volunteers with the organization
A team of Czech volunteers with the organization "We Aid Refugees" received the 2016 Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award for human rights on 8 December 2016 in Prague.

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day (10 December), US Ambassador to the Czech Republic Andrew H. Schapiro gave the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award on 8 December to the organization "We Aid Refugees" (Pomáháme lidem na útěku - PLNU) for its work in the human rights area coordinating and supporting the aid provided by Czech volunteers to refugees on the so-called "Balkan route". "We are giving this award for the enthusiasm with which this organization aids people fleeing war-torn countries," Ambassador Schapiro said during the ceremony at his residence in Prague.

The award for the team of Czech volunteers was received by the founder and leader of the organization, Zuzana Lenhartová, by the co-founder responsible for working with the media, Dalimil Petrilák, by the coordinator of psychological aid to the volunteers during their work with refugees, Šárka Oplatková, and by the spokesperson of the organization and its volunteers at Prague's main train station, in Hungary and in Serbia, Marie Heřmanová. PLNU began its activity as an informal initiative in 2015 and approximately 3 600 people have traveled to the Balkans with the support of the organization to volunteer aid.

The team worked most recently on the Croatian-Serbian border, as well as at a temporary camp in Idomeni and on the island of Lesbos, Greece. The coordination team has approximately 10 volunteers who manage the rest of the team and coordinate the distribution of donations for the refugees in the Czech Republic and Serbia.

The Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award

The Embassy of the United States of America established the tradition of the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award in 2004 as an expression of recognition for individuals or organizations that have done an exceptional service to the development of human rights in the Czech Republic and who, through their support for social justice and their defense of democratic freedoms, have created an open civil society. The award is given annually and is named for Alice Garrigue Masaryk, the significant Czech-American and founder of the Czechoslovak Red Cross, as an expression of recognition for her efforts to combat social injustice and her personal bravery in advocating for human rights.

Alice G. Masaryk is a great symbol of the common history of Czechoslovakia and the United States of America and embodies the long-term dedication of the Czech Republic to human rights, including civil and political rights, both abroad and at home. Previous recipients of the award have been the educator Marie Gottfriedová, attorney Klára Kalibová, open public administration advocate Oldřich Kužílek, the ROMEA association, gay rights activist Czeslaw Walek, former dissident Anna Šabatová, anti-corruption activist David Ondráčka, human rights campaigner Igor Blaževič, immigration activist Lucie Sládková, Romani rights defender Sri Kumar Vishwanathan, Jiří Kopal and the RESPEKT weekly.

press release of the Embassy of the United States of America, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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