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  Helping the Handicapped in the Czech Republic

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By: Peter Milek
pgs. 83C-85A.doc

(Original title: Tabor – Behindertenhiife in Tschechien. Merkurstab 1995; 48: 280-81. English by A. R. Meuss, FIL, MTA.) JAM Vol. 12, Nr. 3

As a group of students at the Academy for Social Therapy in Wuppertal, we have decided to sponsor and actively support a project for helping the handicapped in the Czech Republic. Our first major operation took place in April 1995, when we met with Czech students involved in the development work.

Mount Tabor dominates the region around Jicin. In the 15th century it was a gathering place for the followers of Jan Huss who were fighting for a renewal of Christianity, freedom and awareness. Jan Huss was finally burnt at the stake in Constance. Nova Ves (new village) lies at the foot of the mountain.

Two years ago Anezka Krckova and her husband arrived in the village and started to develop a social therapy center. If Anezka's plans can be realized. Nova Ves will be the first anthroposophic village community in the Czech Republic.

Anezka is not unknown in special education in her country. Having met Anthroposophy at age 23, she studied psychology in Prague and with her brother, who was the speaker for Charta 77 in the 1980's, was a member of the philosophy students' group around Professor Patocka. From 1984 Anezka worked as a psychologist at the Jedlicka Home for handicapped children in Prague's Vysehrad. The Home, founded by the surgeon Jedlicka in 1913 "to give the handicapped their human dignity at last," was for many years considered an example for work with the handicapped.

Mrs. Krckova endeavored to bring principles of anthroposophic special education into her work wherever possible under the socialist dictatorship. Following the events of November 1989, she was elected head of the unit and sought to shape the work openly in line with the image of man as seen in Anthroposophy. She soon met with resistance from her superiors and staff. "The young ones were immediately enthusiastic, but older teachers thought it was asking too much to have to take their meals together with the handicapped." When local politicians tried to embezzle monies donated for the Home, she followed this up, got caught up in the crossfire of wicked slander and was dismissed.

Today, Anna Krckova runs a study course for special education and social therapy at a private institute in Prague. 50 students are now in their second year studying Anthroposophy, special education and social therapy. "All these marvelous young people are longing to work. But how could I send them to the old-style institutions? Many have since got to know anthroposophic institutions in Germany, England or Switzerland. It is time that similar communities are also created in our country."

This might prove possible in Nova Ves. A house has been bought with money donated mainly from Switzerland and is being converted. A school and a parsonage nearby are to be rented and renovated. Mrs Krckova is counting on the help of the village people; the project is to be fully integrated with village life. This is a slow process, and they cannot manage without financial help from abroad. But Mrs. Krckova is confident. She is now looking forward to working with the students from Wuppertal. "If all goes well, the first house will be ready for occupancy next year. And once we have people living here, the rest will follow." (Peter Milek visited Mrs Krckova in Nova Ves in September 1994).

Apart from being actively involved ourselves we also need to ask others to support the project. We are open to all offers. Essentially we lack financial means - as is to be expected. We also need anything suitable for building and furnishing house and garden. Wheelchairs and similar items would also be most welcome.

If this brief report has aroused your interest and you'd like further details, please contact Anke Bohn, who is responsible for overall coordination, at: Hauptstrasse 34, D-24616 Hardebek, Germany, telephone 44 43 23 9 92. If you'd like to make a financial contribution, payments may be made into the following account: Nr. 19022712, atm: Tabor, Bank code: 430 609 67, GLS Gemeinschaftsbank, Bochum, Germany.

Peter Milek, for the student group

Academy for Social Therapy

Wuppertal, Germany

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