Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced to twenty years in jail in a political trial after protesting against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, has been on a hunger strike in a Russian prison for over three months now. Amidst growing international concern for his health, the Czech NGO People in Need has launched a campaign calling for his release. I asked Zuzana Gruberová of People in Need to tell me more.
Czech hydrogeologist Jiří Šíma is a leading expert in the field of water management. Since the mid-1980s, he has been involved in various water management and environmental projects in Africa, mainly in Ethiopia. He created a series of hydrogeological maps documenting the country’s water resources and has been cooperating on various projects with the Czech Development Agency and the NGO People in Need.
There are lots of countries in the world that have been hesitant about letting refugees through their borders. The recently re-elected Czech president even ran his campaign partly on a non-immigrant agenda. Nevertheless, Prague is a hub in Europe for those looking for a better life including some refugees from countries suffering from war and poverty.
The NGO People in Need is active in more than 30 countries the world over, giving immediate aid in humanitarian crises, helping communities threatened by malnutrition, helping the poor to find a livelihood, fighting violence against women and helping give children an education. One of its successful fundraising projects is Give a Real Gift which motivates thousands of people to think of those less fortunate not only during the Christmas season. I spoke with Jan Svitalek of People in Need and began by asking him to explain the NGO’s Real Gift
The Czech NGO Brontosauri v Himalájích has been helping the village of Mulbekh, in Little Tibet, for ten years now. Attention is focused around the local primary school which has grown from strength to strength. Czech volunteers are engaged in a wide variety of activities, the latest project being to teach the children of Mulbekh to play hockey. I spoke to Jiří Sázel from the NGO about how he has helped the children of Mulbekh and what he has gained in return.
It is now twenty-five years since the founding of the Czech charity People in Need, or Člověk v tísni, which operates in several dozen countries around the world providing humanitarian relief, supporting development projects, and educational and human rights programs. In a special program marking the anniversary I am joined in the studio by Jan Mrkvička, who is the head of the NGO’s development and humanitarian relief section.
Debt collecting bailiffs are a factor in the lives of millions of Czechs. Many of them are in fact subject to multiple collection proceedings for fairly minor sums with the costly bureaucracy involved digging them deeper into the mire of debt. A last call has now gone out to politicians from two of the country’s most significant non-profit organisations to reform the current system.
Czech assistants who offer sex and intimate relations to the handicapped have offered their services around 250 times since the operation started around 18 months ago. The manager of the services, which has passed to the organisation Freya, says it is now looking to expand and add to its staff of five female assistants. Three of these are currently based in Prague and one each in the second city Brno and northern town of Trutnov. Freya said ideally assistants would be based in all of the Czech regions. It would now like to recruit men as well as women. The trained assistants offer sex and sexual help to those who have previously had difficulty obtaining it. Similar services are offered in a series of Western countries.
Non-profit organisations People in Need and Transparency International have made what they describe as a last minute call for the Czech government to push through changes to the current system for debt collection through bailiffs. The changes would introduce a new system where regionally based bailiffs would deal with debtors. At the moment different bailiffs from all over the country can deal with cases, escalating costs and creating many more complications in the flawed debt collection system, the groups say. They argue that if the changes are put on the agenda for parliament in April then the bill could still be passed before lower house elections due in October.
At least half of Czech secondary students are not media literate, according to the results of a survey conducted by the NGO People in Need at 132 schools around the country. Despite growing awareness of the need to connect classroom learning to the real world only half of the secondary schools surveyed made media education part of their curricula. Its introduction was first recommended to schools ten years ago. Some of the schools that have introduced media education only devote ten hours a year to it.