Whilst the NGO was official from a later date, we certainly started the project from the moment we drove to Ukraine in March 2022. So what have we achieved in 6 months?
Quite a mixed bag in all honesty. We created everything necessary to offer great integration and language services but hit a big obstacle. It has been far more difficult than we imagined to raise the funds needed to continue to offer free services. The emergency point came in June and we were considering stopping all lessons. At which point, our amazing teachers and super committed students came up with the idea of a small fee (450 czk per month, per student, which is equal to 1 euro per hour) to help cover the costs. The idea worked and generated a contribution to the costs but in no way covered the teachers salaries.
Empowering was able to continue due to the kindness and financial support of Arco, who generously donated 2000 euros to pay for the teachers wages in July. The students fees again covered a small portion of wages for August until a sizable donation was made by Steve, a good friend of ours, who organised a free music festival for friends and encouraged donations on the day, which he pledged to empowering.cz with an additional sum from his own pocket. We thank both of you for your kindness. You both made it possible to continue through the summer months, the hardest months for fundraising so far. Thanks to you, we paid all of our 4 Ukrainian employees on time and in full and many students continued to learn language and gain essential skills for integration.
Our teachers tell us that the students are vitally committed to their lessons and these services are crucial for their life in Czech. We have been told that it is increasingly difficult for many people as they come to terms with the length of this war and the reality of life in a new country. Life as a single mum with no family here, life as a single woman, with no friends close by. Everything has to start again and it’s exhausting. Integration isn’t just about getting a job or a flat or school, it’s about a sense of belonging. It’s about contentment. Considering how people feel after fleeing war, it will take time and many intricate factors to even begin to feel safe here, let alone to feel at home. We are committed to empowering language as a tool for integration, not only for economic stability, but for true wellbeing of the UKrainian community who chose to stay here.
Because of this, we decided to change some of our courses and are currently looking at ways to continue lessons less formally and more integrated into social situations.
We will maintain Czech lessons in a systematic way and are currently looking at how to open new courses for new beginners. Our English lessons will take a different route of learning, more contextual and more in keeping with the needs of the students. We are excited by the ideas and are currently brainstorming course content such as cinema, cafe’s, restaurant’s, parks, walking, hiking, and time in nature in general. We hope to start these courses in October.
As we have been painfully inept at raising larger amounts of money to sustain the programs, we have realised that we want to make our own profits which will allow us to empower more and more people with the vital services we have within our community. We are delighted by the appointment of Petra to our team as our Abundance Guru and Sales Manager. Petra is helping us hone our resilience and mental health portfolio together with our joy filled adventure programs to create a magical toolkit of wellbeing to offer to businesses and schools. We are truly blessed by Petra’s ability to really see and feel us and turn that into actions that will expand our circle of empowerment into the wider community and bring financial abundance to share with those in need. We are also extremely grateful to Lynda Fussell, who has been my life coach for approx 8 years and who has been a rock for all of us throughout this process. We have invited her to join our team as the light that shines upon us and brings out our best features whilst integrating and accepting our worst.
We learnt that we had more compassion than ability to deliver it in a sustainable way but that is about to change. Empowering is finding its roots and creating a foundation to continue growing in depths of integrity to abundantly and sustainably support mental health and resilience.