Goodwill Ambassadors call for greater inclusion of Roma communities, respect for their values and cultural diversity

09 Apr 2013

image Maestro Zhani Ciko one of the Goodwill Ambassadors for Roma issues in Albania. (Credit: UNDP Albania)

UNDP Albania announced last night nine prominent personalities form the world of art, literature, academia and media as UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors for Cultural Diversity in Albania. The selected personalities will use their popularity, status to reach diverse audiences and help influence decision makers, political leaders, and development partners to support the social inclusion agenda of the Roma and Egyptian communities.

Goodwill Ambassadors together with Role models from the roma community came together in a festive evening to convey a great message: Respect for roma values, respect for cultural diversity and greater inclusion in the development mainstream.

Goodwill Ambassadors were selected among a wide range of personalities based on their contributions stance and demonstrated commitment towards social inclusion of Roma and Egyptian communities.

The well known Maestro Xhani Ciko, Director of the Albanian Opera House, selected as one of the Goodwill Ambassadors amongst others said: ” I am very honoured to have been selected as one of the Good Will Ambassadors to give voice to the voiceless. This community needs all our support, needs all our attention, and needs all our encouragement. It’s a community who faces many challenges, but bear excellent values which should be promoted. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to contribute to such a great cause. There will be no integration of Albania without the social inclusion of this community”.

Other selected Goodwill Ambassadors include:

Ms. Arbana Osmani - A popular TV and radio host in Albania who has been promoting Roma values during her work at Top Channel TV.
Mr. Ermal Hasimja, Professor – University Professor at New York University. Has contributed in providing access to Roma students in higher education.
Mr. Florian Kondi or Doctor Flori - A well know Albanian singer. He has composed the popular song "Life is not black and white” perfomed jointly with a Roma band
Mr. Gazmend Paja - Actor. In his roles, Mr. Paja has been inspired by Roma culture and style.
Mr. Kujtim Cashku, Film Producer – Founder of Marubimi Film School/Cinema. Marubi has been transmitting Roma movies and documentaries every year on internationaly marked days

Mr. Marin Mema - Investigative journalist. He has produced documentaries focused also on social inclusion of Roma minority
Mr. Mina Qirici, Writer – Writer of several books on Roma culture
Mr. Pandi Laco, Writer and TV producer – Producer of Nights of Roma Music at Klan TV

UNDP also selected 15 Roma Role Models, successful individuals from the roma community, to serve as models to be followed by the community members, but also to the society as a whole.

Xhesika Korra, one of them said: “I am proud that I have been chosen as one of the cultural diversity role models because I have had to fight stigma against myself and my friends, I have had to work hard, study hard to show everyone that we can, we can be equal members of our society”.

Ms. Zineb Toumi-Benjelloun, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, present at the event noted: I have had the chance to meet many Roma youth in Albania who are present here tonight and I have been impressed by their knowledge, enthusiasm and ambition. I am sure that tomorrow they will play an important role to improve the status and the conditions of their community as well as that of the country as a whole.

“We are particularly excited to introduce tonight a number of well known personalities from all walks of life in Albania who have accepted our invitation to be UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors for Cultural Diversity in Albania. They have graciously accepted to use their reputation and profile to advocate for the social inclusion of the roma and Egyptian communities and to further raise awareness about the great values they possess”, - the UNDP Resident Representative said.

In attendance was also Ambassador Ettore Sequi, Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Albania, who amongst others said that the Roma community lives in extremely difficult condition that contributes to them being still often excluded from social life. Ambassador Sequi added that the Roma community will win this battle only when the state institutions and the society will increase their efforts to respect their human rights. He stressed that the human rights of the Roma community are a very important issue on the EU agenda and that they are being constantly supported with funding to be integrated in social life and to improve their education and opportunities.

The event was organized by United Nations Development Programme as part of “Supporting Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptian Communities” project, funded by European Union and implemented by UNDP. UNDP is working in seven regions of Albania (Tirana, Durrës, Elbasan, Fier, Vlore, Korce, Berat) to promote social inclusion and empower Roma and Egyptian communities through encouraging participatory planning for infrastructure development; strengthening capacities of Roma and Egyptian civil society organizations; promoting employability and entrepreneurship; assisting the implementation and monitoring of the National Decade Action Plan for Roma, as well as fostering respect for human rights and cultural diversity.