Heroes Acknowledged at 10th Annual Human Rights Awards Gala

Association for Human Rights and Tolerance presents human rights hero awards to stellar humanitarians.

That heroism is alive and well in Italy was proven May 27. Two stellar humanitarians were honored by the nonprofit Association for Human Rights and Tolerance at the 10th annual Human Rights Hero Awards Gala.

The event, sponsored by the Church of Scientology Milan and the United Planet Foundation NGO, enjoyed the official patronage of the Region of Lombardy.

Human Rights Hero Awards are conferred by the Association on those who have distinguished themselves in their commitment to the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This year’s awardees were writer and photographer Italo Cassa and the Veronica Sacchi Association (AVS) of Milan.

Active in social causes since the 1970s, Mr. Cassa is committed to peace-building and protecting children’s rights. He has carried out numerous humanitarian missions around the world. He brought 600 children out of the war zone of the former Yugoslavia, where they were welcomed by Italian families who cared for them until they could be safely reunited with their parents. He has traveled to Romania and Lebanon to build bridges of peace. And dressed as Captain Gioia (Captain Joy), he has brought the “therapy” of laughter to children who survived the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and to those living as refugees in Turkey and Syria. Back home in Italy, Captain Gioia brought smiles to children living in camps after the earthquakes of L’Aquila, Emilia, and Amatrice.

Since 2001, the “clown doctors” of the Veronica Sacchi Association (AVS) have put smiles on the faces and joy in the hearts of those suffering in hospitals, centers for the disabled, rest homes and prisons.

As the volunteers often work with those in tragic circumstances, AVS trains them to dispense their special brand of joy. Their “clown doctors” operate not only in Italy—they have brought their “missions of joy” to Russia, Albania, Argentina, the Congo, India, Kenya, Morocco, Romania, Ukraine, Palestine, and Serbia.

President of the Association for Human Rights and Tolerance, Fiorella Cerchiara, presented the awards and welcomed new Human Rights Ambassador’s to the Association’s ranks: Stefania Mazzon, Prinetti Family, Antonio Oliver, Federico Zindato, Avv. Alessia Sorgato, Consul Eva Gloria Chuquimia Mamani, Michele Graglia, Angelo Gigli.

One of the highlights of the event was the announcement by Dr. Massimo Restivo, president of United Planet Foundation, that the United Nations has conferred NGO status on the Association for Human Rights and Tolerance Onlus, which now serves with consultive status to the UN Economic Social Council.

The Association for Human Rights and Tolerance NGO operates coordination with the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology of Milan.

The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.

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