White Crow Awarded to Somali Refugee for First Time Ever

White Crow Award 2016 laureates - (from left to right) Emilia Trepacova, Khadra Abdile, Monika Podolinska and Jan Bencik (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 17 (TASR) – Fair-play Alliance and Via Iuris awarded the White Crow Award for the ninth time on Thursday, TASR learnt on the same day.

Created in 2008, the White Crow award is given annually to whistleblowers who challenge unethical or corrupt behaviour at great personal risk or for courageous civic deeds benefiting the public.

This year’s awards went to Monika Podolinska – a teacher of Roma children, Jan Bencik – a blogger that uncovered extremist activities and Khadra Abdile and charity worker Emilia Trepacova for mutual solidarity and tolerance. Somali refugee Abdile is the first laureate from abroad.

“This year we wanted to show all Slovak citizens that courage isn’t something unattainable, something that’s beyond our reach. The White Crow doesn’t search for heroes/saints that should be held in the highest regard but stresses that courage can be close to every one of us,” stated Zuzana Wienk of the Fair-play Alliance, adding that empathy is very important in these unsettling times.

Podolinska works as a teacher at a Roma-only primary school in the village of Muranska Dlha Luka (Banska Bystrica region). She has received the prize for her persistent and devoted assistance to Roma children despite society’s adversity.

Bencik has been awarded due to his courageous systematic monitoring and uncovering of extremist activities despite receiving death threats.

Both Abdile and Trepacova have faced constant attacks but their spirits remain high. Abdile, along with her son, came to Slovakia in 2013 to find refuge from being persecuted in her homeland of Somalia. After the onset of the migration crisis, she has been subjected to multiple verbal insults and physical attacks. On one occasion she was strangled in a tram with her scarf. A few days later, when she was at the doctor’s with her son, people threw stones at her. The former attack ended only after a Caritas Slovakia (SKCH) worker, Emilia Trepacova, intervened.