Člověk v Tísni (People in Need) has its roots in the Epicentrum foundation that united dissidents and Velvet Revolution era leaders as well as journalists in 1992. When its members collected a then unheard of amount of 30 million CZK to help war victims in Sarajevo, it was clear to everyone that the organization´s activities should be expanded. In 1994 Epicentrum teamed up with Czech Public Service Television to form People in Need.
In the fifteen years of its existence, People in Need´s public awareness campaigns have provided unbiased information for journalists aimed at informing the public both in the Czech Republic and abroad. In addition, the organization is active in 17 countries worldwide, such as Afghanistan, Namibia, Romania and Sri Lanka, providing relief and development work.
At home, social integration programs are the heart of People in Need´s activities.
These programs focus on socially excluded localities, formerly simply labeled Roma enclaves, and range from helping the adults who live there with housing, unemployment issues or debt management to matching up volunteers with children who live in those neighborhoods. People in Need volunteers visit families to help the local children, who often have difficulty succeeding in school, with their homework. “When the parents see the volunteers work with their kids, in some cases it really makes a difference and motivates the parents to do more for the education of their children,” says Tomáš Urban, spokesman for People in Need.
Another important pillar of People in Need is its international development aid. A good example is its mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was founded two years ago. The mission aims at providing relief to the countless rape victims that were one of the consequences of the lingering civil war, which can be described as one of the most forgotten conflicts in the world. People in Need has built ten houses to accommodate rape victims that often become homeless due to the fact that rape is still considered a social stigma. Life in those houses, aside from providing much needed shelter, gives the women an opportunity to gain new self-confidence by making their own living at the soap factory People in Need has helped them build.
Sometimes humanitarian help is needed at home, and so People in Need brought the necessary assistance to victims of the floods in 1997, 2002, 2006 and 2009 in the Czech Republic as well.
In response to the earthquake of October 1, 2009 in Sumatra, People in Need launched a fundraising campaign to which you can donate by sending an SMS to the number 87777 with the message “DMS SUMATRA.” One SMS costs 30 CZK of which 27 CZK go directly to the victims of the earthquake. The website, www.clovekvtisni.cz has an excellent, easy to navigate English language version and informs of People in Need´s latest humanitarian campaigns. Most allow you to donate via SMS or by sending money to a specified bank account.
For those who wish to become regular contributors, a project titled “Real Help” is ideal. Funds donated to this project are used for manifold causes, ranging from providing clean water for children in Angola; funding school supplies for People in Need´s many missions or helping with the development of a health system in Afghanistan. To contribute, send an SMS with the text “DMS ROK SKUTEK” to the number 87777 and each month for a year, you will contribute 30 CZK to the causes and be informed of what your money is being used for. You can end your contribution by sending an SMS with the text “DMS STOP SKUTEK.” Should you wish to make a one-time contribution of 30 CZK, send an SMS with the title “DMS SKUTEK” to the same number.
Another great way to get involved is to join the Club of Friends of People in Need; contributions to join range from $150 to $350. Members are sent a bi-monthly email with information about PIN projects, events and other updates. The application can be filled out online.
If combining charity with a bit of early Christmas shopping is more your style, consider purchasing a beautiful Namibian handicrafts from People in Need´s Wake center. The center is in the Karas region of southern Namibia, where families impacted by HIV and TBC find work. A list of shops in Prague that carry the items can be found here.
How about combining a movie night with friends with a good deed that will surely raise awareness? Organize a screening of the excellent documentary “Burma VJ” that informs viewers of the realities of life in a country that has been ruled by one of the world´s most repressive regimes for over 40 years. Since information on Burma is hard to come by, watching the film is an excellent way to expand your horizons. You can find more information on the movie here and order the documentary free, fill out this form.
People in Need is always looking for qualified employees for development work and it pays to regularly check their classifieds. While the organization does also offer unpaid internships, at press time there was much more demand than open space.
If you would like to get involved more actively than just donating money but aren´t qualified for mission work abroad, Tomáš Urban recommends getting in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding proofreading and translation help. “Often, when we want to publish a press release, we have to translate it or correct our translation very quickly for immediate release, and we could use some help with that.”
Whichever of the many ways to get involved you choose, you surely won´t regret supporting such a multifaceted, respectable and influential charity as People in Need.