The international charity Betel´s motto is “Dedicated to restoring broken lives.” The organization started as a spontaneous response to the bad living conditions in the inner city of Madrid some 20 years ago. Since then, it has grown to an international network of 60 programs in 13 countries. The programs seek to help drug addicts and other marginalized people by providing them with a task, a daily workload that puts meaning back in their lives.
The Czech branch of Betel came to Králupy nad Vltavou, about 30 kilometers from Prague, in 2005. Betel believes in helping people that are addicted to drugs or alcohol, fresh out of prison or homeless and giving them a place to live. A condition to stay at their free shelters, such as the one in Králupy nad Vltavou, is that the client abstains from alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Residents also are required to work and have to conform to a strict daily schedule.
The Králupy nad Vltavou location of Betel can house up to 15 men; currently though the shelter is not at capacity with only ten clients. Often, the clients have never known what it is like to work everyday and the Betel home provides a valuable opportunity for them to learn how to adapt to a regulated schedule. The length of their stay isn´t limited and varies on an individual basis. Some of Betel´s clients have lived at the shelter for two years, others leave earlier. A tightly regulated lifestyle, daily work and the knowledge that abstaining is necessary to be able to keep their rent-free accommodation is often just what the clients need to make a dramatic change in their lives.
“We are grateful for any help,” says Veronika Tichá, co-director of the Czech branch of Betel. One way to help is by donating. Betel is thankful to pick up your furniture, electronic equipment, bric-a-brac, paintings, etc. without charge and will resell those items in their charity shop – all the proceeds flow directly back into the company´s budget. For donation pick-up just send a picture of what you are planning to donate to email@example.com and they will contact you, or give them a call and describe the items you would like to donate.
Aside from bulkier items, Betel also accepts groceries with a long shelf life, cleaning supplies and clothes for the adults who live in their residence.
“For us, it is a really great support if people take advantage of the services that we offer,” says Mrs. Tichá – and those services sure can come in handy.
If you are looking to move, need assistance with a cleaning job or would like someone to take care of that neglected garden, hiring help from Betel is a great way to combine these necessary evils with charity. A great feature of their moving service is that if you donate some of your furniture in the process (that bulky cupboard you never used), the donation´s value will be distracted from the final charge. A rough schedule of fees for all services can be found online at www.nabytkova-farma.cz, an easy to navigate website available in both Czech and English versions.
Shopping at Betel´s charity shop in Králupy nad Vltavou is a great way to find items that have more individual character than the dime a dozen furniture by the Swedish blue-and yellow furnishing giant. The store is open 9am to 5:30pm on weekdays and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. Directions can be found on the website listed above.
And there´s more to explore than just furniture. The store also carries porcelain wares, decorative items, toys, clothes and books in Czech, English and German. Some of the items on sale come directly from England, where the umbrella organization of the Czech branch is located.
Králupy nad Vltavou is only a 45 minute train ride from Prague´s Masarykovo Nádraží station and an outing to the furniture farm makes for a nice day-trip, especially if you are looking for a more relaxed environment than busy Prague to do your Christmas shopping.
Should you find more than you can carry on the train, the Betel staff is happy to transport the items back to your house for a small fee. Either way, you will arrive home knowing that your shopping has done some good.