Families are willing to move over 100 kilometres for this school. As one of the few in the Czech Republic, this school has long been admitting pupils with severe autism and is able to provide them with special education as well as day care. It is attended by 114 children. More than half of them have a certain form of autism, 80% of them do not speak and communicate with teachers through a so-called image exchange communication system. Nevertheless, together with the parents and the staff of the school, they form one large community, as is evident from this interview with the headteacher Ivana Kováčová. Continue reading A school known far and wide. Interview with Ivana Kováčová, director of the diaconal school in Merklín
Festivities, music, interviews, reflections and screenings. These were all part of the celebrations of thirty years of Diakonia. They started professionally: an international seminar on values in diaconal work. This was followed by two gatherings: in the Salvátor Church in Prague, and then in the Prague Crossroads centre of Dagmar and Václav Havel. Music was provided by the orchestra of the Evangelical Academy Conservatory, under the leadership of Ladislav Moravetz; and by Hradišťan, a world-famous ensemble combining Moravian folklore and world music. Taking part in the talks were International guests, clients of Diakonie and founders of the organization, thanks to whom Diakonie resumed its activities in 1989 and grew into one of the most respected care organizations in the Czech Republic.
600,000 CZK, proceeds of this year’s Lent Collection, will go to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. Diaconia will use the money to buy equipment for the winter, which is surprisingly cold in the mountainous areas of Lebanon. For refugees often living in one bare room, it is not easy to survive. Blankets, mattresses, stoves or fuel oil will be purchased by Diaconia on site to support the local market. Syrian refugees themselves produce warm blankets in community workshops, which receive aid from us. Another portion of the money will support the establishment and operation of a community centre in Zarqa, Jordan, which will provide leisure and education courses and help build the economic independence of refugees. Continue reading Diaconia for Syrian Refugees
He spent his whole life in economic fields and before retiring he asked himself how to spend his free time meaningfully. He has decided to help other people, so for the past six years, through one of the Diaconia volunteer programmes, he has been volunteering in families – helping children with preparing for school. And he works very well with his significantly younger colleagues. Continue reading We’re on the same wavelength. With Jan Kaloš about what volunteering with Diaconia can bring to a person
In Myanmar, Burma, Diaconia has recently helped renovate five schools that are attended by over five thousand students in total. Education is crucial to them. It is their ticket out of the poverty they are currently living in with their parents. Continue reading Schools to Withstand the Rain
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.