€690.00Donated So Far
Short description of the project idea
Speechless Reconciliation is a project founded by Matej Keka in February 2021 in partnership with the Rotary Club Prague International. Its short term goal was to organize a 9-days long summer camp for youngsters from houses for kids without parental care from 6 countries of Western Balkans in the Czech Republic with the topic of “If I could design my future, what would it look like?”
Its long-term goal is to fulfil the hopes of youngsters with disadvantaged backgrounds from houses for kids without parental care. Hope for a better life, hope for a better future, hope for a better community.
To achieve that, we will offer them opportunities for professional and personal development, through engaging with different stakeholders such as Rotary International, companies, universities, and other organisations from different regions of Europe. We already have a few committed partners from different regions of Europe.
Its vision is to create strong community leaders. We will achieve that, by giving opportunities for professional and personal development to the youngsters from houses for kids without parental care.
The whole project is divided into two main parts. The first part is the summer camp, where with the help of the professional trainers the youngsters are working on designing their future direction. Two months after the summer camp, the youngsters' plans are assessed, and various questions are asked to find out if the youngsters are still interested in pursuing the plan that they designed during the summer camp. If not, the alternative is offered.
2nd edition timeframe: 1st phase 10 days in the August 2022
Summer camp activities
- team building activities in the intercultural setting (debunking stereotypes)
- activities for enhancing the “feeling of worth” among youngsters with disadvantaged background
- activities for “sparking the curiosity” through e.g. walks to the nature
- “designing the future” with the help of the professional with the of 5 years of experience in working with disadvantaged youth
- follow up support in search for opportunities with the help of the online platform
- ongoing communication between participants from different organizations
- inspired and motivated youngsters from the houses for children without parental care
- plan for the future of the youngsters developed by them with the help of the professional staff
- improved knowledge of English language
- increased knowledge about different cultures
- passive acquisition of soft skills such as communication, empathy, compassion, active planning, decision making, problem solving
- anonymous profiles of the youngsters on the “opportunities platform”
- 36 youngsters from up to 6 countries from houses for children without parental care directly impacted by the in-person summer camp
- wider public support in the Western Balkan region for the reconciliation and dialogue through inspiring story of the youngsters from the houses for children without parental care
We are planning on repeating the same successful organization of the summer camp as the last year and for that we need your support!!!!!! You can read about the impact we had more here below in the testimonials from the participants and the partners of the project.
Matej Keka (Czech Republic) (founder & leader of the Speechless reconciliation project)
For me personally the outcome of the project was something that I could never imagine. We have worked hard on making this project a successful one, under very difficult circumstances with one main goal in the back of our heads. Make the summer 2021 an unforgettable experience for some of the youngsters from the former Yugoslavia.
We have brought 24 youngsters of different ages, different origins, different histories and mindset, but whom we saw leaving was a group of people that shared experience that created memories that most probably will never forget. And that is why I can consider the Speechless reconciliation project 2021 a big success.
The memories, stories and experiences that we as a group have created in August 2021, will never be taken away from us and it will help us to shape our future, whatever it might be.
Tim Belon (Belgium)
“I joined the project team in an early stage, a stage where a lot of stakeholders had doubts about the feasibility of the project. Especially because the timeline we had was very short. The chance of failure was real. A few weeks ago there were still a lot of important issues to be solved. But we worked as hard as we could with a small team of ‘believers’, all of us realized that we would not be able to make it on time. At that time even the ‘believers’ did not realize at all the impact that this project would have on so many youngsters.
Our first ambition was to give all of the participating youngsters a week they would never forget and to find ways to make a difference in the long run for some of them. Two weeks before the event me and my wife traveled with Matej and Gerry to the location where the event was going to take place. We found this place was in the middle of nature, an inspiring place… ideal for the project. We returned to Prague convinced that we were going to be able to realize our first objective… organizing a week never to forget.
I can also speak for my family and all other members of the project team when I say that all of us had tears in our eyes on different occasions. The youngsters showed their gratitude in so many ways, messages, words,… it was more than heartwarming.
It was also amazing to see how the youngsters from the different regions, with a different culture, beliefs,… became ONE after only a few days. They connected already during the first day, but they became ONE group after 2-3 days. So beautiful to see, especially when you know that adults (in the Balkans) do not always seem to get along too well. These kids have the potential to make a difference in their region and in the rest of the world.
Gerry Tipple (Great Britain/Czech Republic) (Rotary Club Prague International president & member of the project team)
“For most of the youngsters and the organising team the camp was an emotional as well as fun experience. Definitely many of them returned with more hope and a raised horizon of their own potential. This is real success and we are committed to continuing to provide them counselling and practical support where possible.”
Valery Senichev (Czech Republic/Belarus) (leader of workshops on designing the future)
I see a huge importance to work with young people within the Speechless reconciliation. Our camp was focused on knowing themselves, their talents and their possible future ways at university or at the labour market.
It really helps, when we work long-term with our participants. I enjoyed seeing the growth and awakening awareness of themselves and of their friends around. I am also looking forward to our future cooperation with the Speechless reconciliation team. As a psychologist I could really see the impact that this summer camp had on the youngsters.
Gabriela Rohelová (ADRA volunteer)
The Speechless reconciliation project has been a big unknown to me from the beginning. I didn't know what to expect from it, I was even a little scared, especially because of the language barrier, but in the end I was pleasantly surprised.
For the first time in my life, I could communicate without saying too much, and yet the children understood me. We understood each other - even without words. It was amazing. I met a lot of new people and created great friendships.
I enjoyed spending time with the youngsters and carrying out morning activities for them together with other volunteers - my friends. The project gave me a lot of experience but mainly a lot of beautiful and unforgettable moments and memories and most importantly people who inspired me.
Tina Fidrmuc (group leader of Dječji dom Zagreb)
For me, participating in the Speechless Reconciliation project was a unique experience that happened in the perfect moment of my career. Right after studying psychology at university, I got a job opportunity to work at a foster care home in my hometown. Every day and every situation at work is an opportunity for me to learn and absorb different techniques that are useful in working with children, especially with the ones who suffered severe trauma in past years. It is really a delicate job to give the group of children the right amount of structure, support, love and understanding to make them feel secure and give them a nice environment to grow and develop.
During the project I got to see how other social workers approach their children in their own special way and each and everyone of them taught me something. They showed me how one person can mean so much to so many children while still being in control.
Secondly, it was so nice seeing the children making friends with children from completely different backgrounds in no time! They started laughing, talking, running, playing football, and enjoying the beautiful scenery the very first hour they met. Their laughter filled every moment of the project and the friendships they made are one of the most valuable things that happened to them this summer!
One of the goals of the project was to teach them something valuable that they will take back with them and that nobody will ever be able to take away from them. They were working on building their self-esteem, polishing their presentation skills, thinking about in which direction they want to continue their education and career journey and all that while being aware of cybersecurity. To sum up, the week that we spent in Beskydy mountains was a magical experience that none of us will ever forget.
Ljupco Trifunovski (group leader of North Macedonia)
The Speechless Reconciliation project for me as a group leader means that I can go out of my routine and retreat and volunteer in a positive manner. It means forming contacts, networks, sharing and gaining ideas on how to improve the support,to participate in creating new opportunities and approaches in empowering youth and building their potential and capacity.
For me personally, every activity that brings youth exchange and growth through personal development by expanding your own strengths and experience in general is of greater use than it seems. Finding someone that you can look up to is as important as education. It also tackles the possibility to learn new languages and to cultivate respect toward other nations, cultures,religion and stereotypes may subside and compassion and empathy will take its place.
Living in a western Balkan country which is a candidate for entrance into the EU and being able to teach youth and give positive examples of respecting self and others is also beneficial for all and gives us the opportunity to demonstrate and practice European values and show leadership that is postulated on knowledge, humility and compassion.
Anesa Cuca (group leader of Kosovo)
Our participation in Speechless Reconciliation has been achieved after a long way of great effort, work and commitment. Our director, Ora, after she received the invitation to be part of this project, she worked so closely with Matej, the leader of the project and with unconditional effort, seriousness and dedication we’ve made the dream of six youngsters become a reality.
I call it a dream because I remember very well the first months of meetings and preparation, how sceptical we were with all the procedures such as organization, visas and travel. But the youngsters' great desire to be part of this project has been a great motivation for us to work more intensively, so together and united we made the dream come true.
For me and the six youngsters, participation in the Speechless Reconciliation Project was an extraordinary experience. Through this project, the youngsters have learned many things, as to how to open themselves up and how to create and cultivate lasting friendship, how to think and design their future, how to choose wisely their professions, how to use a collaborative thinking mechanism for making the right decisions in a group, how to keep themselves safe in social media.
They have learned about different countries, their cultures and have had the opportunity to see other countries' traditions, music, dance and taste their cuisine. Most importantly they’ve learned that being different doesn’t mean being apart, it means that maybe people have different views of seeing things, different languages, religion or history, but if we know how to communicate properly, kindly and with respect then we have something huge inside us, humanity.
Our youngsters understood that when there is the willingness to bond with someone there is no space for communication barriers. So, they’ve used the English Language as much as they did to communicate with other youngsters from Western Balkan countries because they wanted to be part of a group and to enjoy every moment spent in Beskydy. This interactivity helped them to improve their English language skills. They have been very involved in every activity, even formal or informal, enjoying it, so for a week or more, they had stopped being conscious of the perception of time.
This project was a life-changing experience in so many aspects. Although for our youngsters this trip was the first trip abroad and in the beginning, in their eyes you would see fear, anxiety and curiosity about how the days will go, they’ve managed to turn these emotions very quickly into happiness, friendship, communication, joy, enthusiasm…They’ve immediately broken the ice and started introducing each other, chatting, talking, sharing contacts, social media, dancing and singing, playing Uno, watching stars, sharing stories, taking photos together and opening up about themselves. This kind of view has been present during the whole trip.
Each youngster has been unique, regardless of their background history, traumas processed or not, each of them has reflected a positive message. Without hesitation they wanted to talk about themselves, to share laughs and stories, and it all came so naturally. The way they all interacted with each other was magical. After a day or two, we looked more like a family rather than a group of people.
The interactivity with each participant has had a positive impact on my personal and professional advancement. Meeting colleagues from different countries, and seeing their approach to work helped me learn more about how to interact and deal with children of different ages, with different backgrounds and traumas. During this project, I have also learned how similar youngsters are and how easily they can understand each other and make solutions or help each other during the activities.
Even though the purpose of this project has been educational, the experience and moments spent, 24/7 together with colleagues and young people from different cultures have let me understand that the best lesson doesn’t come from books but the life of the individual. To sum up, the week that we spent in Beskydy was a remarkable experience and made the summer of 2021 never forgotten.
- Daniel Xuereb
- Funds captian
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