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Czech high school students win US Embassy prize for tutoring Romani children

Prague, 15.9.2012 19:20, (ROMEA)
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High school students in the East Bohemian town of Broumov who have volunteered as tutors to Romani primary school pupils have won the VIA BONA 2012 prize in the category of school volunteering. The prize for philanthropy is awarded by the VIA Foundation (Nadace VIA) and THE KELLNER FAMILY FOUNDATION under the auspices of the Embassy of the United States of America. Prizes were also awarded to Mr Ondřej Horecký for his aid to orphans in Tanzania and to Ms Jana Bečvářová for her aid to at-risk children in foster homes.

The winning prize was shared by the 20 volunteer students and their teacher, Ms Šárka Rambousková, who dedicated their free time to Romani and other children from socially excluded children in the Broumov foothills. The jury awarded them the VIA BONA prize in the newly introduced category of school volunteering.

"Often it was the first time someone had taken an interest in these children. They were able to talk about their lives and confide in others. That completely new experience stays with them. One first-grader even said he would be glad to stay back a year just so the young lady would keep tutoring him," said Ms Rambousková, who started the program.

"The winning project combines volunteerism, education, and support for minority groups. It is a courageous and extraordinary project," said Mr Jan Leiner of THE KELLNER FAMILY FOUNDATION, which initiated the new school category.

Other VIA BONA prizes awarded for 2012:

Journalists' prize for an individual donor: Ms Jana Bečvářová - For several years, Ms Bečvářová has supported the civic association that is the Center for Foster Family Care (Středisko náhradní rodinné péče), which helps at-risk children living in foster homes. Ms Bečvářová, who is a pharmacist working for the Prague-based IKEM company, got many of her colleagues involved in the project as well. This prize is awarded by a jury of 13 journalists from leading Czech media outlets.

Prize for personal engagement – Heart of the Year: Mr Ondřej Horecký - After graduating from college, Mr Horecký traveled abroad to care for people living with paralysis and used the money he made to care for orphans in Tanzania. In 2006 he established a civic association called "Without a Mom" (Bez mámy), which helps find adoptive parents in Tanzania and facilitates cooperation between African and Czech schools.

Prize for opening up a new path: Adastra - The Adastra company has started working on a topic that corporate donors sometimes avoid. In 2011 it became a partner in the "No Need to Fear" campaign ("Nebojme se zbytečně") launched by the "Going Home" (Cesta domů) civic association, which is involved in providing aid to persons with terminal illnesses and their families.

Small and medium enterprise prize: Mibcon - The Mibcon company has long supported the Klíček ("Little Key") Foundation, which aids children who are hospitalized, incurably or seriously ill, as well as their loved ones.

Strategic donor prize for a large enterprise: KMPG Czech Republic - Since 2004, KPMG Czech Republic has given long-term, significant, strategic aid to the Tereza environmental association. KPMG has provided not only financial assistance and volunteers, but also other support such as legal advice, printing services, and translations.

Prize for a large enterprise for support of a concrete project: OKD - Since 2011, OKD has been engaged in supporting the workplace integration of people living with disabilities. In 2011 it put together financial support totaling CZK 9 million for more than 30 workshops for such people and the nonprofit organizations assisting them. The company also launched a website through which people can buy products produced by persons living with disabilities, www.pracepostizenych.cz

Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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