16. 04. 2024

Meeting of the Roma Spirit 2023 Finalists in Bratislava

On Tuesday, April 16, 2024, finalists from the 15th edition of the Roma Spirit Award convened in Bratislava for a series of exceptional meetings held in their honour. Organisers orchestrated a pleasant and engaging day designed to express gratitude and admiration for the efforts and accomplishments of the Roma Spirit 2023 finalists.

The day commenced with an informal gathering, where finalists received a warm welcome from Ľubomíra Slušná Franz, the visionary behind the Roma Spirit concept, and Magdaléna Rothová, the director of ACEC, the award’s organising body. Roma Spirit 2023 Finalists and members of the Preparatory Committee had the opportunity to foster connections, exchange experiences, and explore avenues for future collaboration.

Following the morning session, attendees proceeded to a reception at the residence of Gautam A. Rana, the Ambassador of the United States of America to Slovakia. There, finalists were personally greeted by the host, who conveyed sincere appreciation: “Before my arrival, I was familiar with the deep-rooted and systemic challenges, including prejudices, discrimination, and marginalisation, that Roma face. But only when I began meeting individuals and groups like you, did I begin to fully understand three things.

First, the Roma minority is Slovakia’s greatest source of untapped potential. Second, there are countless individuals, leaders, groups, and companies, including all of you, in every corner of Slovakia, whose hearts and minds are dedicated to improving the situation and rights of the country’s Roma minority. And third, there are solutions to the challenges facing the Roma.

Each one of you here today serves as proof of this truth. I want to express to all of you that your contributions are invaluable and have a profound impact.  Your efforts not only change the lives of individuals and their families, but also uplift their entire communities,” he added.

The laureates and finalists of the Roma Spirit 2023 Award seized the opportunity to showcase their projects and engage in discussions with American diplomats, members of the Preparatory Committee, award partners, and representatives of the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities.

The day culminated with an afternoon program hosted by Dr. Johannes Wimmer, the Ambassador of Austria to Slovakia. In his welcome remarks, he expressed admiration for the finalists’ contributions: “The finalists and laureates of the Roma Spirit Award are an inspiration for all of us. So let me take this opportunity to thank the finalists and laureates of Roma Spirit 2023 Award for what they did to promote respect, understanding and dialogue.”

The finalists were also honoured by Róbert Dobrovodský, the Public Defender of Rights, who expressed his appreciation: “I appreciate the opportunity to personally meet the finalists of Roma Spirit 2023 and thank them for their active efforts to improve the living conditions of Roma women and men and strengthen inclusive society.”

The gathering at the Austrian Cultural Forum Bratislava provided a congenial setting to connect with the diplomatic community and discuss forthcoming initiatives. The event was marked by accolades and recognition for all participants dedicated to advancing the welfare of individuals and society at large.

Throughout the day, a convivial and celebratory atmosphere prevailed, characterised by myriad meetings, dialogues, and words of encouragement—all in alignment with the ethos of the Roma Spirit, which champions mutual respect, collaboration, and solidarity.

For more photographs click WWW.ROMASPIRIT.SK