Dedicated citizens win awards

9 September 2003

BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazilians who have devoted themselves to supporting human rights received "world citizenship awards" at a Baha'i-sponsored ceremony here.

The event, held on 9 September 2003, was covered by major television channels, Rede Globo and TV Nacional. Many newspapers also published reports about the awards.

Government representative Hildesia Medeiros and representatives of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Brazil presented the awards at the ceremony, which was held in the auditorium of the Ministry of Justice.

Among the 250 attending were members of the Association of Brazilian Lawyers, and representatives of government ministries, the Supreme Court of Labor, and United Nations agencies.

A special posthumous award went to the Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations' special representative who was killed in Iraq in August 2003.

Other award recipients, including individuals and organizations, were:

  • Dom Mauro Morelli, from Rio de Janeiro, for his work to eliminate poverty;
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Baha'i representative Osmar Mendes presents an award to Sonia Creide of the Malunga Group of African-descendant Women.
  • The Malunga Group of African-descendant Women, for its work for the advancement of black women;

  • The Steve Biko Benefactor Institute for organizing preuniversity courses for Afro-descendants;

  • The Rural Women's Movement in Santa Carina for its support of rural women;

  • The Gaspar Dias Center for Human Rights for its work in the slums of Sao Paulo;

  • The National Child-Hope Movement, for improving the living conditions of poor children;

  • The Great Circus Arraial, an institution that trains poor children to work in the circus, and helps them to develop the confidence to earn their own living;

  • Mrs. Zilda Arns, founder and coordinator of the Children's National Pastoral;

  • March Eighth Woman's House, for its support of poor, pregnant women and the victims of violence.

Accepting the award on behalf of the March Eighth Women's House was Bernardete Aparecida Ferreira, the organization's president.

"This award is the acknowledgment of our work to defend the human rights of marginalized women and victims of violence -- our institution has helped about 3000 people a year," Mrs. Ferreira said.

The awards were founded by the Brazilian Baha'i community in 1994.

The jury which selected the award recipients this year included a representative of a major newspaper, "Folha de Sao Paulo", as well as members of the National Movement of Human Rights, UNESCO and the Baha'i community.

The president of the jury was Brazilian writer Washington Araujo.

"The creation of this award put a spotlight on the efforts of the Baha'i Community to defend human rights, for world peace, the status of women and the preservation of the environment," said Mr. Araujo, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Brazil.