2016 Was a Successful Year for the ECCB’s Diaconia

The Diaconia is growing. Its centres and schools are currently running over 130 facilities all over the Czech Republic. It employs more than 2000 people; its schools and kindergartens are attended by 423 children and students. The Diaconia’s Academy, which offers training courses for social service workers, is also getting on well. The courses are designated not only for employees of the Diaconia, but also for other social service providers. At the moment, the Academy is offering 50 educational topics and is the only provider on the market to offer long-term (6-month) training for social service managers, for workers caring for clients with dementia or for assistants to intellectually disabled and autistic clients.

The Diaconia’s centres in Litoměřice and Písek have celebrated 25 years of their existence!

The Diaconia’s Litoměřice centre focuses on helping people with a health or social handicap integrate themselves into society and work.

1DiakonieTo draw attention to the 25 years since its founding, the clients of the daily services centre placed statues into the streets of Litoměřice. They created them alone and literally using their own bodies: the light sculptures copy the silhouettes of their live models. Each of them depicts a different position – one is sitting on a bench with a coffee cup in its hand, another is waiting at the bus terminal, two statues are walking into the local Diaconia centre, hand in hand. However, nobody from the Diaconia had imagined what a wonderful response the project would have. Today, the whole town lives with the sculptures. Not only clients of the Diaconia and their parents, but also office workers, policemen, businessmen and others are increasingly interested in the lives of the centre’s clients, as each of the statues provides the name of the specific client it represents, including their story. This is a way for anybody interested to be able to learn about the lives of handicapped people and about the services that are offered to support them; it makes the often “invisible” handicapped people more visible to the society.

We should also mention what happened during the first weekend following the festive installation of the sculptures. On Friday, the statue of Honza disappeared. On Saturday, Honza’s statue appeared in front of the Lidl supermarket, but its head was missing. On Sunday, Martin’s statue was found with graffiti on it, while Michael’s was found on the ground with its hand and leg ripped off… and somebody had taken Jára’s statue.

The workers of the Diaconia decided not to get turned off and followed the example of the way vandalism had been handled in New York: each broken window must be repaired immediately, each wall with graffiti must be cleaned without delay. Therefore, the statues were fixed and re-installed right away, on Monday.

The events triggered a wave of solidarity and interest in the town. Destroyed statues of handicapped people were a piece of news that had the right “conflict potential” for the media. The Diaconia received many offers of help with protecting the statues. Perhaps this also pricked some of the vandals’ conscience: the statue of Jára was returned after a week with a note of apology.v25_40m

And the situation today? People stop the Diaconia’s clients in the streets of Litoměřice to ask how they are doing and wish them all the best.

The Diaconia’s Blanka centre in Písek is also celebrating a quarter of a century of its existence. Founded on 1 May 1992, it has been providing care to elderly and ill people from Písek and its surroundings from the outset. The centre also includes an elderly people’s home called Domovinka, a special-regimen home named Vážka, a field care service and a home care service.

The lent collection to support Burma

The funds raised in this year’s lent collection, which took place in all the congregations of the ECCB, were donated to the approximately 100,000 people living in camps for “internal refugees” (internally displaced people) in the West of Myanmar/Burma. Some fled their homes following conflicts between various nationality groups, others ran away from floods. The Diaconia has been providing help in the region for three years. Over 400,000 CZK was raised in the collection this year. The money will be used for the renovation of five schools and for the support of 400 households in the refugee camps.

Adam Šůra