Perhaps you’ve seen people wearing a t-shirt bearing the name Světluška at the metro stations or on one of Prague’s historic squares, and have avoided them because you thought they were promoting some new product. In fact, they are volunteers for Světluška, which means ‘firefly’, the long-term collection project of the Czech Radio National Fund. Like its namesake, this project hopes to ‘give a little light’, in this case to the visually impaired.
Světluška was founded in 2003. Since then it has raised around 50,000,000 CZK which has been distributed to the visually impaired and those organizations which assist them. According to Martina Kasalová, the organization’s public relations spokesperson, “(Světluška) is the only foundation where non-profit organizations can apply for a grant along with individuals. The money for non-profit organizations, which have projects for visually impaired people, is distributed once a year. Individuals can apply throughout the year. The individuals can be both children and adults and the quality of support is very broad and can include scholarships.”
From this, their sixth year collection, Světluška gave more than seven million CZK to 69 projects and nonprofit organizations, such as LORM, (the Society for the Deafblind), Apogeum, who provide audio commentary so visually impaired people can enjoy films, and Brailcom, whose primary goal is making sure visually impaired people have access to information technology. A full list of Světluška’s beneficiaries from this and previous years can be found here.
A further one million CZK was given to individual recipients. These people include 13-year-old Ráchel who was given a speaking computer and a personal assistant to help her walk to school. Then there’s three-year-old Lukáš whose sight was damaged after a head injury. Světluška has provided him the support to regularly meet with a consultant who, with Lukáš’ mom, helps to develop his sight. The fund has also provided him with a friend, a seeing-eye dog named Ajša.
One project which Ms. Kasalová is particularly proud of is the Early Care Centers (Střediska pro ranou péči). “Since Světluška was established they have been supporting this organization which has centers throughout the Czech Republic. The Early Care Centers provide services for sight and hearing impaired children and their families. These centers work with highly experienced professionals, who go to family homes and teach the parents how to communicate with children and how to develop their abilities. We value their work highly.”
The full list of projects Světluška supports is quite broad. Apart from the projects mentioned above, the fund also provides:
- special school aids, such as translation of textbooks into Braille
- computers with voice output, speaking and Braille keys
- requalification programs and protected workshops
- training and education in self-reliance and spacial orientation
- training in how to read and write Braille
- audio books
As is evident from these few examples, Světluška is not just about letting the visually impaired cope; it’s about helping them enjoy life to the fullest. As the project’s patron, singer Aneta Langerová, is quoted saying, “Isolation is one of the overwhelming burdens, with which people with sensory impairment struggle…None of us want to become stranded on a quiet island. I’m glad that Světluška contributes to aids and projects, which help overcome these sensory barriers.”
If you want to participate in overcoming these barriers too, it couldn’t be easier. The most straightforward way to give a donation is with an SMS. Simply send the message DMS SVETLUSKA to 87777. For a cost of 30 CZK, Světluška receives 27 CZK. After you send your donation, you will receive a message of confirmation. If you would like to donate more regularly, you can write DMS ROK SVETLUSKA and instead of a one time only donation, 30 CZK will be sent to Světluška every month. Further information about SMS donations can be found at the SMS Donation website. (in Czech).
If you would like to make a larger contribution at one time, you can send money to the Světluška account “Ten Nines,” (so named because the account number is 99999 99999/0100). It’s just a matter of filling this number onto the payment order. You can also organize regular payment orders through your bank. With the bank order it’s important to include Světluška’s details given below:
Nadačni fond Českého rozhlasu
120 99 Prague 2
Through the year, Světluška also stages a number of events. This year they sold small gifts, pendants, bracelets and magnets for 70 CZK, 50 CZK and 30 CZK respectively. Another successful event was KAVÁRNA POTMĚ (Café After Dark), which returned to Ovocný trh in June of this year. The café was run by the visually impaired. Entertainment included a concert on the roof. People in attendance included their patron, Aneta Langerová, former president Václav Havel and acclaimed director Miloš Forman. All together this event raised more than one million CZK. Other events have included concerts and fundraisers. Ms. Kasalová said that KAVÁRNA POTMĚ is likely to return, though the plan this year is to bring the event to the whole country from spring to fall. She thinks KAVÁRNA POTMĚ is the easiest way for people to get involved because “we can experience the world through all the senses but sight.”
Another event organized by Světluška is a benefit evening, which according to Aneta Langerová, gets better each year. The event was described as the high point of the year. While there is no firm date for next year, Světluška certainly want to repeat this year’s success. Check their website (in Czech) for updates.
The most recent event was the launch of the Světluška 2010 calendar at Neoluxor Bookstore. The calendar, illustrated by Naděžda Kotrčová and in Czech and English, retails for 198 CZK. Both Kotrčová and Langerová were at the launch giving fans a chance to get the calendar signed. Through events like this Světluška maintains public awareness of visually impaired people. The calendars are available until February in Prague at the following stores: Kanzelsberger Bookstores throughout the Czech Republic; ACADEMIA Bookstores in Prague and Brno and Neoluxor Bookstore Prague. More stores can be found at their website.
If you are interested in helping in some other way, Ms. Kasalová suggested contacting Světluška and they will arrange something. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.