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UNICEF GOODWILL AMBASSADORS ARE IN BAKU: Judge the children with disability on their merits

© UNICEF Azerbaijan/Pirozzi/2011
September 20, Baku - Berlin Filarmoniker Orchestra are at the Lutheran church during the concert with the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra

Elmira Tariverdiyeva

They are wonderful musicians who play in the Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra-one of the world’s finest orchestras. They tour extensively, bring up children and are engaged in sport activities. They are ordinary successful young men. But ... But in fact they are more than successful musicians and ordinary people. They are UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors who can probably feel and emphasize a little bit more than ordinary people.

They visited Baku in September within the frame of “Abilities are limitless” campaign.

On September 20 joint concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra and the Azerbaijan State Symphonic Orchestra named after U. Hajibeyov was held at chamber and organ music hall with the support of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan and UNICEF.

It was more than just a concert; it was an attempt to draw attention to the problems of children with disabilities. Since 2007, when the Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra became Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, the musicians have often given charity concerts and all proceeds from concerts were used to help children from different countries such as Haiti, Japan.

However, their current visit within the frame of “Abilities are limitless” campaign differs from previous ones. In addition to the concert held in Baku, the musicians visited a number of homes for children with disabilities, including a music school for children with visual disorders where they talked to children and even performed a master class.

Punctual Germans came to an interview a bit late. But when they started talking about meetings in boarding schools, it became clear - they just could not part with children, could not say goodbye to those they came to help.

After talking with children from boarding school the musician of Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra, Christoph Artmann was very excited. “This is certainly a big responsibility - to become a goodwill ambassador, to help children. But for us it is important not only transfer the money for these children but also draw attention to their problems. After all, children with disabilities who live in boarding schools shall be considered as a problem of society. And this problem should be solved. Maximum attention should be paid to this issue. Judge children with disabilities on their merits” said Artman.

According to German musicians, in Germany such children have all opportunities for quality life which doesn’t differ from that of their peers.

"They live with their families and are able to lead their daily life independently. Children with disabilities in Germany are not isolated from society. Transport, infrastructure, education - all arranged so that to enable them to feel themselves comfortable. That should also be the target of your city, your wonderful country which is currently passing the stage of global changes"- said the musician.

His colleague Clemens Faygel shares his views. He is a father of three children, and when he talks about children he met today in boarding schools he looks confused and upset. He apologizes for being late and reiterates that he just could not part with them.

"The notion of stigma - discrimination against children with disabilities was rooted out in our country. My kids play with peers who have physical disorders, hearing or visual problems, but it seems they don’t even notice it," – said Faygel.

He wasn’t just strongly impressed by his visit to Baku's boarding schools, a musician wants to explain what he actually saw while communicating with children.

"They are not the same as all, they are even better. They performed national music for us. Music – is a universal language. I believe that in this language they can communicate with any person they meet, they should not be just a part of society but the best part of it" – said Faygel.

According to both musicians, the fact that the work they love to do can be used as a tool to attract attention to the problems of children with disabilities, makes it more sublime and noble.

"We are keeping a diary on the site of Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra and there we will describe our visit to Azerbaijan and all those children we've seen these days" - said Artman.

UNICEF is making film about the visit of goodwill ambassadors to Azerbaijan. It is worth seeing shot where musicians are crying while parting with their new friends - Azerbaijani children with disabilities.

Great Bakuvian and colleague of musicians from Berliner Philharmoniker, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich said at the ceremony on awarding him the title of Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO in 1998: "We, the people of Earth, all living side by side, as if in one apartment, and it depends on us, to make happy or unhappy a neighbor".

Well, the more Azerbaijan and Azeri children have such neighbors as Goodwill Ambassadors, the happier will be the future of children with disabilities; the future is not limited by any prejudices and limitations.

This article was written within the frame of joint project of UNICEF and Trend agency.




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