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.