In June 1989, Diaconia of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren renewed its activities after the fall of the communist regime. The celebrations that will commemorate this important anniversary will culminate on Thursday 20 June from 3 p.m., at a meeting in the Prague Salvator church. We are preparing a festive programme with many guests, which will take the participants on a tour through three decades of Diaconia’s life, from its post-revolution beginnings all the way to the present day. The programme will be interspersed with music and time for meeting up for a chat with friends over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. We invite all who would like to celebrate Diaconia’s birthday with us: employees, friends, partners of Diaconia and other people. We look forward to seeing you there! We have also prepared a special website for the celebrations: www.diakonie30.cz. Here, you can see a calendar of the events organised by Diaconia’s centres and schools for this occasion, as well as stories from Diaconia, information about its history and values; the website also offers the opportunity to buy a birthday present for Diaconia. Continue reading Diaconia is Celebrating Its 30th Birthday: What Can We Look Forward To?
Fifteen schools with over four hundred students: the ECCB’s Diaconia ranks first in special education provided in the Czech Republic. However, Diaconia did not only earn its leading position because of the numbers. Another reason is that its schools are open to children with the most severe types of disability, including low-functioning autism. In addition, Diaconia offers two boarding schools – in Prague and in Merklín near Plzeň. The approach at Diaconia’s special schools is based on the premise that every student is original. While you’ll find one sitting at his/her desk and behaving in an orderly manner, another will probably be moving around constantly, and yet another student might be so sensitive that even the slightest departure from the usual order will cause a huge disruption and will make the student scream so loud that the whole school can hear it. One thing is certain: even a person with a very serious handicap is able to receive education. This does not necessarily mean they are going to learn to read and write. One can also show progress in learning how to communicate the fact that they are hungry, they feel discomfort or a desire for the company of another person. These do not represent trivia for people with disabilities and their close ones. We rely on our teachers’ expertise, experience and good will. And also on their individual approach, which means a small group of children per class is necessary. Diaconia’s schools are family-type schools, that is one of our key principles.
Diaconia’s important moments of 2018
Diaconia has opened a brand new home for elderly people, called Vyhlídka (View/Outlook) in Vsetín. The homey feeling of the facility as well, as the clever design of the garden, have certainly contributed to the fact that Vsetín’s Diaconia won second place in the “NGO of the Year” state awards.
Diaconia has a number of restaurants and cafes where people with a disability work as waiters. A new café in the historical centre of Kolín has now been added to the list. Diaconia in Valašské Meziříčí has opened a praline-making factory, employing people with various types of disability.
Seven of Diaconia’s workers have received the National Award for Best Social Workers. Two of them gained the main awards: Karel Novák, director of Diaconia Rolnička in Soběslav, and Helena Hingarová, a social worker from Diaconia Litoměřice, who also deservedly became the media star of Diaconia.
The nationwide advent collection organised by Diaconia, called “Shoeboxes”, was an immense success. 38 822 gifts were collected for children from underprivileged families in the Czech Republic. A significant number of the ECCB’s churches also participated in this project.
The Lent Collection, which mostly took place in the ECCB’s congregations, raised 1.1 milion CZK. The funds were used to construct a playground and a community centre in a refugee camp in Zátarí, Jordan.
Diaconia’s centres in Brno, Soběslav, Rýmařov and Valašské Meziříčí celebrated the 25th anniversary of their founding. Diaconia was also glad to actively participate in the celebrations of the ECCB’s one-hundred-year anniversary.
It is a cold, damp November morning and another school day has just started at Diaconia’s special school in Prague-Michle. However, from what is happening outside the building, it looks like this is not going to be a regular day like any other. About eight Chinese people have just got out of their cars and they are preparing to enter. What is going on? Continue reading China, Vietnam, Brazil, Singapore. Special School in Michle, Providing Education Also to Children of Foreigners
In this year’s Easter edition of the Ecumenical Bulletin, we reported about the help that Diaconia has been providing at the refugee camp in Zátarí, Jordan. A Lent collection was taking place in the ECCB’s congregations at the time, the proceeds of which were designated for the people at this camp. 1 million Czech crowns were raised in the collection, also thanks to our partners from the United States (Diaconia Connections). The funds from this collection will help enlarge the “Peace Oasis”, the Diaconia centre at the Zátarí camp. This will give the inhabitants of the camp more room for meeting with people, as well as space for specific aid programmes organised by Diaconia in cooperation with other organisations. In addition to this, a playground is being constructed for the local children, protected from the sharp desert sun, providing swings, slides and climbing frames.
Diaconia’s centre in Valašské Meziříčí runs (among other things) two clothing stores and a cleaning company. This autumn, a chocolate-candy producing factory has been added to the list. The trouble is, not all workers are able to keep their job, especially those with a learning disability. They are often unable to handle all the demands of the job, such as working independently, and decide to quit, despite being skilled and motivated. Diaconia’s centre in Valašské Meziříčí is now striving to find ways to help these people keep their jobs. Continue reading The ECCB’s Diaconia helps prepare people with disabilities, even those with alcoholic dementia, for work.
There’s a shy knock on the door. Then it suddenly flies open and two little girls come charging into the room. They immediately get hold of Andrea and start begging: “Andy, shall we play sugar – coffee?” Andrea Bendíková hugs them and answers: “Okay, but when we’re done with the tutoring, alright?” The girls agree. Continue reading Roma People Among Us. The Story of a High School Girl
Zaatari, one of the biggest refugee camps in the world, can be easily accessed by car. Usually, one sets off on a highway, which leads from Amman, the capital of Jordan, to the boarder with Syria. Once over the border one usually turns onto the so-called Baghdad road, drives through a mildly hilly desert landscape, and from a distance one can already see a big city. Before 2012, Zaatari described a small village. Everything has changed since the war broke out in Syria. More and more refugees arrived in Jordan. For the establishment of the refugee camp, Zaatari for several reasons proved to be a good place – a source of groundwater was needed, a crucial thing in the desert arid land. The camp was established in cooperation with international organisations and under the supervision of experienced Jordanian authorities; the country has a lot of experience with the arrival of refugees. Continue reading Keeping hope. To whom and how will help a donation from the fast collection
The Cheb kindergarten is unique among the facilities run by the ECCB’s Diaconia: it is their only kindergarten for non-handicapped children. Its key mission is to support children from the Czech and German side of the border in meeting and getting to know each other. Continue reading Border-Free Kindergarten in Cheb
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. Continue reading 2016 Was a Successful Year for the ECCB’s Diaconia
The Synodal Council of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren has appointed Jan Soběslavský to be the new director of the ECCB’s Diaconia beginning 1 April 2017. The appointment was based on the result of an open competition and the recommendation of the ECCB Diaconia’s Supervisory Board. Jan Soběslavský (37) is a law and protestant theology graduate and has worked in the Diaconia for twelve years. He began his career as a legal advisor at the Diaconia’s headquarters and in 2007 he became the director of the Diaconia’s centre in Brno, which expanded its range of services under his management, especially services for elderly people and people with a mental handicap. Since 2010, Jan Soběslavský has also been a member of the Diaconia’s Board of Directors. Representatives of the Diaconia’s founder, i.e. the ECCB, thanked the previous director, Petr Haška, for the work he accomplished as head of the Diaconia. “I’ve experienced many wonderful moments with you throughout these past few years,” said Petr Haška to all the workers of the Diaconia in his farewell message, which you can watch in Czech on the youtube.com/diakoniecz channel.