Who we are: We are the family of Vladimir Schwandtner that invite mostly young people who are in critical health condition after using drugs (or any other reason), in our own home and we try to help to solve their problem/addiction. In our family, they spend as „adopted children“ (children – people we receive in our own family without age difference) a few months. No one ever found any similar family like us anywhere in the world.
- We do this volunteering work since 10.1.1996 (22 years). Before this, in 1994, we also adopted (via the trial process) a drug addicted 14 y.o. girl.
- There were more than 200 children that stayed in our home.
- These children stayed with us for 5 months in average (altogether it is around 83 years).
- There were times when we had 11 addicted children at our home at the same time, but usually there have been 5 at the same time.
- Approx. 90 % of them are doing great, they live their lives without any relapses, they finished education (high schools or universities), they work and have their own families and children. We still keep a personal contact with most of them and they often visit us. For example, in 2017, our „adopted children“ gave birth to 6 newborns.
- This volunteering work requires 24 hours a day person-focused care and nurture. This work takes place at our home right at our own house without any external help or personnel or any state contribution. For all that time, we never had opportunity to take a day off or a vacation. Also, we have never had a regular salary and actually we were unemployed and that is the reason why our retirement wages are so low (220 and 170 euro).
One day stay at psychiatric department (it´s where these people usually go) costs approx. 60 euro and it is paid by state health insurance. (Today, insurance companies pay less than 60 euro for 1 day spent at psychiatric department, specifically in Pezinok. „It´s not much,“ says the director of the psychiatric hospital in Pezinok.)
Our children spent with us together 30 000 days, which is 1 800 000 eur according the state prices. That is how much money we saved for the state as the state didn´t have to pay for them from health insurance for being in any hospital. The state never offered any kind of help and we had to ask for some contribution to cover necessary costs by parents or any donators. Not mentioning that we also did a free guidance, prevention and enlightenment.
During my volunteering work, I applied only my own methods and I also learned many new procedures. I ask for help now, because I am already 66, I have a 7 cm long scar on my heart, strong diabetes, lyme disease, cataracts on both eyes, advanced arthrosis, but still we are not quitting this work (we can´t do it even if we wanted to, because still many people ask for help). I would like to write down and to describe all my experiences, new findings or methods and publish them in a book. My goal is to forward all my experiences and methods to others and accredit it at universities so that students will be able to upgrade their knowledge.
Natalia Koslabova, coordinator of this project:
In 2005, Vladimir was given an award for all his volunteering work „Humanitný čin roka“ (Humanitarian deed of the year 2005). He has been also given an award as a journalist as he used to write stories about his „adopted“ children and their problems on his blog. Under his supervision, Tatiana Melasova wrote and published a book „Tovar“ („The goods“), who was addicted to heroin, she overcame several overdoses and experienced a few unsuccessful treatments and came to Vladimir´s family to Budmerice as a total wreck. The novel is a personal confession of the author, mostly about drug and prostitution experiences.
For 22 years of their volunteering work and a lack of money, they have never given up their mission, but still willing to help those who ask for help. They do this volunteering work without any state contribution, because this would oblige them to use „state“ standard methods which they do not agree with. For all those years, they have been moving from house to house for many times. Now they live in a house an entrepreneur selflessly bought for them who is now their friend.
During all those years they have started to cooperate with many specialists like doctors, lawyers, journalists, psychologists, psychiatric personnel and more which helped them to upgrade their knowledge. Due to all gained experiences and new findings, Vladimir would like to make it useful for students at the universities and to be included in the teaching process. He would like to build a community centre with theoretical and practical lessons at their house. To all those, he also need to finish renovation of some rooms, which he has already started to do from their own resources.
In the first phase, they need to finish reconstructions of:
- bathroom, which should be used for special needs of drug addicted children as they need to get through the many physical changes in the first days of addiction cessation;
- heating; the heating in the house was arranged through a solid fuel boiler because it´s cheaper in this area; they need to make a source for pumps and automatics;
- entrance to the community centre and stairs;
- and to buy electronics, furniture and other equipment to the lecture room for students.
In the second phase, they need to cover their expenses which are related to writing books (edits and corrections) and publishing. These books will be dealing with problematics of addictions and other context which should serve to general public, parents and also as primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. A primary prevention is meant how not to ever start with any addiction; secondary prevention – how not to get the problem any worse by parents or close friends if there is already a person addicted; tertiary prevention – how to avoid relapse.
More information about family you can find on their website www.drogy-sos.sk/en . Please find few links on articles, stories and other information that has been published about their work, below.
For all donations, family thank you in advance and they will inform you about progress on their website.
Coordinator of this project is Natalia Koslabova as my family does not speak English language. If you have any questions, please use an e-mail address natalia(dot)koslabova(at)gmail(dot)com and all your questions will be answered.
Photo: aktuality.sk, Vladimir Schwandtner