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On Saturday, May 24th during the Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, the winners of the Human Development Award were announced. The first Human Development Awards were presented to the Latvian Dyslexia Association, Mommies’ club, Maris Ceirulis, Chairman of the Liepaja Society for Blind People and Aija Tuna, Director of Change Opportunities for Schools.
58 entries were received, from which selected were 13 finalists in four categories:
1. Social Responsibility Award: Māris Ceirulis, Cemex Iespēju fonds, Nordea Bank AB Latvia branch, Foundation „Ziedot”.
2. Outstanding Commitment to Education Award: Association „Youth Consultations” (Jauniešu konsultācijas), Latvian Dyslexia Association, Program „Mission Possible” („Iespējamā Misija”) and Foundation „Vitols Fund”.
3. Exemplary Contribution to Health and Well-Being Award: Health and social service „Artemis” (Veselības un sociālais serviss „Artemīda”) and the Project for parents „Mommies’ club” of SIA „Lietišķās kreativitātes grupa” („Māmiņu klubs”).
4. The Future of Latvia Award: Gunārs Ikaunieks, Aija Tūna and Helena Marija Vipase.
The winners received a sculpture “Sprout” made by the artist Olga Silova and an Award certificate. One of the program partners Baltic American Freedom Foundation provided the winner of the category “Outstanding Commitment to Education Award” Latvian Dyslexia Association with the money prize worth 3000 EUR.
The Prime Minister emphasized that according to the “Competitiveness Report of Latvia 2011”, high inequality is one of the factors affecting competitiveness. Therefore, the Government has set the goal to decrease income inequality, reflected in the National Development Plan. She said: “Only by working together in close cooperation with each other, we can overcome the obstacles for development so that each person could live free from poverty and fear of the future.”
She added that during all times, but, particularly, in recent years the main promoters of societal development have been the people who have initiative and vision, NGOs and socially responsible business. She said: “You are the ones who have precisely understood the obstacles for development. You have dedicated yourselves to solving these issues and engaged others who share similar views. And from you we can get experience and knowledge how to tackle the problems.”
She went on to say: „Thank you for drawing attention of the entire society that Latvia has exceptional people who have improved the human condition for people around us and ensured better education in Latvia. Outstanding, inspirational personalities – you are the future of Latvia.”
U.S. Ambassador Mark Pekala addressed the guests with a Latvian saying: “What is given, returns to the giver”. He went on to say: “Tonight we are gathered here to honor some of Latvia’s most selfless individuals, who truly have given from their hearts.”
He added: “Latvia is filled with talented individuals and companies who are promoting human development – work that too often goes unrecognized. I would argue that three pillars – Youth, Civil Society, and Innovation – promote and sustain human development in Latvia. Whether in the business, non-profit, or public sector, we see this innovative spirit among all the honorees tonight. They are taking risks, thinking creatively and making a difference for Latvia.”
Gabriele Koehler stressed that this is a unique award as this type of recognition for achievements in human development does not exist anywhere else in the world. She said: “Latvia has taken the notion of human development further and helped develop the more encompassing notion of human security. The National Development Plan of Latvia for 2014–2020 earmarks five priorities for achieving securitability, namely decent work, demographic growth, education and the development of competencies, good health, and the sense of belonging through culture and cooperation.”
She emphasized that the outcomes for human development in Latvia have been mixed, given the scope of the economic crisis in the past five years and harsh austerity measures which brought along economic hardship, new inequalities, emotional grief, and national stress. Ms. Koehler said: „One would have wished for recent social and economic policy to be more holistically attuned to ideas of human development, of balancing economic reform with social equity and progress.”
Arnis Kakulis said: “Human development is the awareness, assessment and employment of the maximum of each person’s capabilities. Knowledge, health, wellbeing and freedom add deeper and wider dimension to human life and help achieve the maximum of each one’s potential.”
He went on to say: “Today we see wonderful examples how individuals, organizations and businesses perform their work with confidence, love and selflessness, and make Latvia a better place to live, study, work and establish families. We highly evaluate and admire the selfless and significant work done by so many Latvia’s people and organizations, expecting nothing in return. You – all the honorees for the award – are the winners and we are proud of your achievements and wish to follow your example. Your work is very much needed for Latvia."
AmCham, together with the United States Embassy in Latvia, Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF) and Civic Alliance of Latvia, created the Human Development Award program to honor inspirational people and social responsibility practices of Latvian businesses and non-profit organizations. The purpose of the Award is to promote human development and prosperity of Latvia’s people.
Watch videos about the finalists below:
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