Ambassador Donald Lu Remarks on the Independence Day Reception

President Nishani, Speaker Meta, Prime Minister Rama, Deputy Minister Kospiri, ladies and gentlemen,

Americans are more than just cowboy boots and Hollywood movies.  We are a nation founded on the simple idea that all people are created equal.  Today on this 239th birthday of the United States we celebrate the diversity of the American people.

All around the United States, we are marking the 25th anniversary of the law that guarantees equal rights to persons who are differently abled.  In that spirit, we celebrate the lives of President Franklin Roosevelt, entertainer Stevie Wonder, political activist Helen Keller and Olympic athlete Wilma Rudolph.  These Americans achieved great things in spite of, or perhaps because of, their physical limitations.

Albania passed last year its important amendments on the rights of persons with disabilities.  Great organizations like the Albanian Disability Rights Foundation have worked to promote mobility and employment for Albanians with disabilities.  And we are so lucky today to be joined by successful activists in this effort, including social activist and Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Bardhylka Kospiri, renowned singer Stenald Mëhilli who sang the Albanian national anthem for us today, art teacher Lidia Capo and radio talk show host Ervehe Tushe.  I wanted to invite Deputy Minister Kospiri to tell the stories of Lidia and Ervehe.

• Lidia Capo is a one of the best art teachers at the Institute for Deaf.  She is also a proud graduate of this same institute. To Lidia the most beautiful moment of her life was when she was offered a position as a drawing teacher after taking an employment course with the Albanian Disability Rights Foundation.  In addition to helping children find their passion in art, Lidia is an accomplished painter with two personal exhibitions of her paintings and drawings.

• Ervehe Tushe now known as the voice behind the popular Radio Tirana show “Pages of a Diary.”  Working for RTSH has helped her that besides her daily limitations to feel valued for her unique abilities.  She says that during her talk show, she tries to give a voice to the problems faced by people with disabilities.  She says that this “magic microphone” has made her dream come true – to be valued as a professional and to share her message with others.

Albania and the United States share the vision of all of our citizens reaching their full potential.  I hope you will join me in a round of applause in celebration of America’s birthday and in celebration of the accomplishments of Americans and Albanians with disabilities, and their inspiring contributions to our two great nations.