The Gypsy Spirit 2009 contest being held by Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb has its nominees! ROMEA, o. s. is one of three nominees in the non-governmental organization category. On Friday 13 November the nominating committee met to evaluate 110 applications.
1. Award to a non-governmental organization for implementing a specific project aimed at developing and supporting the Roma minority and achieving results.
2. Award to a company or firm supporting projects focusing on social assistance and support to the Roma community or the creation of diversity.
3. Award for after-school educational activities focused on Romani children and youth.
4. Award for individuals who have contributed to improving the position of Roma over time
5. Action of the Year: The action that contributed to saving someone’s life or improving their quality of life.
The committee’s criteria were the following:
1. The time period during which the activities were implemented – long-term perspective
2. The results achieved and their measurability
3. The motivational influence of the project on the area and on other projects
4. The uniqueness, originality and creativity of the solution and its exceptional beneficence
5. The public’s positive perception of the achievement
The gala announcement of the awards will take place on 1 December at the Pražská křižovatka (Prague Crossroads) center for cultural and spiritual life. All members of the expert jury and the Action of the Year jury will attend. The project is held under the auspices of Mr Václav Havel, chair of the expert jury, and the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity Mr Vladimír Špidla.
The evening will be broadcast live by Czech Radio 2 in Prague. On Saturday 5 December the awards ceremony will be re-broadcast on Czech Television (ČT24) at 20:00. After the gala ceremony there will be a press conference by the winners and jury members.
Gypsy Spirit aims to support the active efforts of all who contribute to improving the situation of the Roma in the Czech Republic. The aim of the project is to create a tradition of appreciating work on behalf of the Roma community, creating a public platform for presenting positive examples and real benefits to the Roma community, and familiarizing the public with the activities of organizations and individuals aimed at supporting the integration of the Roma minority into society and improving their lives.
The Gypsy Spirit awards are focused on supporting and publicizing activities and projects that bring about actual, measurable results and represent real assistance to Roma people. The project was originally created in Slovakia where it has been successfully realized by the Association for Culture, Education and Communication.
The nominees are:
Non-governmental organizations implementing a specific project aimed at developing and supporting the Roma minority and achieving those results:
1. Romea, o.s. This organization runs the internet news server of the same name and publishes the magazine Romano voďi. In addition to publishing news and cultural information focused on events concerning the Roma, the server also educates by doing its best to produce an objective image of the Roma and other minorities through its collaboration with the mainstream media, which positively impacts Roma integration. The organization also fights extremism through its reporting.
2. IQ Roma servis, o.s This organization provides free social and legal counseling, educational and recreational services to persons at risk of social exclusion, implementing both information campaigns and conceptual-level work. IQ Roma servis has been nominated for its project of awarding employers the Ethnic Friendly label. The aim of the Ethnic Friendly project is to improve the labor conditions for members of all minorities in the Czech Republic and to support the principle of equal treatment as practiced by employers creating a generally non-discriminatory environment and relationships on the labor market.
3. Český západ, o.s. This organization implements many projects in Dobrá Voda and the surrounding area aimed at building up civil society in the Toužimsko locality, offering regular and intermittent activities for children, youth and the entire community. The association’s main target group is the local socially excluded Roma community. The majority community from the locality is actively engaged in the organization’s projects.
Companies or firms supporting projects aimed at social assistance and support to the Roma community:
1. Museum of Roma Culture This organization is nominated for its many years of activity in the area of culture. From the beginning the museum has done its best to build up collections documenting Roma culture and history. Today it administers exhibits on traditional crafts and professions, historical types of dwellings, interior furnishings, clothing and jewelry, fine arts, written materials, posters and invitations, audio recordings, photographs and video documentation. It has opened a library and is mapping the impact of Roma culture on majority culture.
2. Czech Radio This organization is nominated for its web pages on Roma in the Czech Republic at www.romové.cz, which report on news and other matters of interest from the lives of Roma in four languages. In addition to news items, the website offers information on Roma history, culture, traditions, language, remarkable Romani personalities and contacts to organizations concerned with Roma. The aim of the web page is to increase the Czech and global public’s awareness of the life of the Roma and contribute to breaking down stereotypical prejudices and racial hatred.
3. Ekoltes Hranice, a.s. This firm is owned by the town of Hranice. Ekoltes provides jobs for under-qualified laborers. The aim of the program is to make it possible for employees to re-qualify for better work positions and to enter the labor market with a recommendation from their employers after meeting the conditions of the program.
Afterschool educational activities focused on Roma children and youth
1. David Tišer is nominated for his quasi-documentary film “Roma Boys –A Love Story”. The film is about the neglected topic of Roma homosexuality, which has not yet been publicly addressed. Public debate on this topic is strongly rejected from within the Roma community itself, which professes “traditional family values” and considers homosexuality a contemptible disease. The film is intended to be used as an educational material for schools and to provoke discussion of the topic of multiple discrimination.
2. Elementary School Svitavy –Lačnov is a small elementary school in which one-third of the children are Roma. The school organizes after-school activities aimed at the cultural and social interconnection of the local excluded Roma community and the majority society. Every month the school holds cultural events for the public, runs hobby circles, actively uses Roma school assistants, and does its best to guarantee financing for children from socially deprived families to attend school camping trips, field trips, etc.
3. Asociace debatních klubů o.s. (Debate Club Association) helps children become active learners, supports the development of children’s personalities, especially their moral, social, and intellectual abilities, develops their social intelligence, tolerance and positive interpersonal relationships, and supports the development of intercultural activities. The association achieves these aims by organizing academic debate competitions for pupils and youth. The association devotes particular support to including children and youth from the Roma community in the Czech Republic.
Individuals who have made long-term contributions to improving the position of Roma:
1. Jan Rác is nominated for lifetime achievement. He has worked for the Roma community 37 years and designed many projects familiarizing the majority society with Roma history and traditional customs through his traveling exhibitions, extensive lecturing and publishing.
2. Ladislav Goral was one of the first people to dedicate himself to social work with the Roma in the 1970s at a time when the concept was not yet defined. He was behind the creation of Roma Studies at Charles University, contributed to the Czech-Romanes dictionary, and worked as a staff member of the secretariat of the Czech Government Council for Nationalities during the 1990s. He has mapped Roma extended families his entire life and founded one of the longest-lasting civic associations concerned with the Roma, R-Mosty.
3. Lýdia Poláčková is nominated for her many successful projects. She introduced the position of social health assistant and founded the Permanent Working Group for Roma Community Integration, which addressed the issue of social housing. Now that the city of Ostrava has designed a community plan, the group is transforming itself into the Roma Ethnicity Working Group. Poláčková actively contributed to implementing the project of Romani women caregivers in social services, a very successful project about which there is still great interest.
The Action of the Year that contributed to saving someone’s life or improving it:
1. Martin Turták is nominated for saving the life of Ms. L, who is permanently wheelchair bound, when he freed her from a car that was on fire. Mr Turták noticed Ms L’s predicament while out driving with his son. He immediately stopped his car and rescued the woman, who was in shock, from the burning car.
2. The Children’s Unit of Intensive Resuscitation Care, Fakultní nemocnice v Ostrav (Ostrava Teaching Hospital) under the direction of Doc. MUDr. Michal Hladík Ph.D. is nominated for the exemplary medical care provided little Natálka, who suffered burns over most of her body during an arson attack on her parents’ home. The team of physicians at the Children’s Unit has done the utmost to provide Natálka with care, going far beyond the line of duty.
3. Burn Center, Fakultní nemocnice v Ostrav (Ostrava Teaching Hospital) under the direction of chief physician MUDr. Zdeka Crkvenjaš is nominated for the high level of professional care provided little Natálka, who became the victim of an arson attack on her parents’ home in Vítkov. Natálka suffered from third-degree burns over 80 % of her body. During treatment she was faced with many life-threatening situations, but today she is fully stabilized and ready to transfer into the standard hospital care regime.
ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert