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News release


IYV Launch in the Czech Republic, December 5th, 2000

December 5th, 2000 was the day when also the Czech Republic NGO Bohemia Corps joined the world-wide movement of launching the International Year of Volunters. The IYV generally should draw attention of the society to voluntary service as such, but also to volunteers´ contribution to developing their society in economical terms; the Year also aims to facilitate wider involvement of the political and state representatives who are expected to make the job easier for the volunteers -- may it be because of writing new relevant legislation, introducing tax deductions for the organizations working with volunteers, and for the volunteers themselves. The Year might also facilitate systems that will make volunteerism easier and finally, to inspire the journalists to keep looking for the voluntarism stories and to publicize them -- not only tragedies should create daily news. December 5th, 2001 should count the yearly work of all the sectors of the society and summarize what the Year brought, and what was started during the Year.

In the Czech Republic, we can see volunteers in action every day; we all will certainly remember groups of volunteers who helped flooded Moravia in Summer, 1997, or exactly a year later flooded Bohemia. Volunteers work every day in the social services -- they help handicapped citizens in everyday activities; go to do shopping, help to cook or do laundry or "only" make company to a person who would be otherwise on his/her own. Volunteers work in houses for seniors, with people who are unemployed, homeless, drug addicted, or have some other health and social problems. Large numbers of volunteers work with children and youth -- as differrent sports instructors. run cultural groups, etc. Volunteers work with minorities, refugees, with people in jail, with women and children who were subjects to domestic violence, etc. Very specific projects also work with volunteers abroad, in development and humanitarian projects, or Czech Republic also experiences foreign volunteers´ service in-country.

A volunteer is a person who wants to help from his own free will. He brings hope and strength to the ones who are being helped, and also enriches himself because s/he knows that his knowledge and presence is needed somewhere. Volunteers can help our societies to develop, but the societies must value their service, which is -- so far -- typical more for the individuals. In the CR we often meet with some kind of shyness to report the non-paid work, "just because" we want to help. In our for-profit oriented young capitalistic society the skill to make a lot of money very quickly is valued the most, and people working for free are considered strange.

Bohemia Corps is a Czech NGO whose mission is to support volunteerism as civic society principle -- since the organization´s start in 1997. The organization has a database of almost 400 volunteers, and regularly participates in the annual conferences of the International Volunteer-Sending organizations. The conference in 2001 will be hosted by the Bohemia Corps in September. Currently, the organization is also active in suggesting the legislative framework in voluntary service in the Czech Republic.

December 5th, 2000, Bohemia Corps organized its traditional festivity to award the volunteers´ work in 2000, and to launch the Year. The festivity was held in the Senate, under the auspices of the Deputy Chairman Mr. Ivan Havlicek, and was attended by high-level state officials. The Bohemia Corps awarded two volunteers -- Ms. Sona Bosakova from Kromeriz, and Ms. Zdenka Maskova from Pribram, both for promoting voluntary service in their respective regions.


For more information, contact the Bohemia Corps, Drahobejlova 54, 190 00 Praha 9, tel.: 420-2-683 7574, bcorps@vol.cz



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