From the Ukraine to the Czech Republic: Integrating newcomers into Czech communities

Just one month after opening our new program “Welcoming Ukraine into our communities”, we have the first set of 47 supported projects! We receive project proposals not only from Prague, which has always been the main refuge of most newcomers, but also from villages and towns in outlying regions that have historically had minimal experience in involving foreigners in community life. Thanks to an unprecedented wave of solidarity, we are seeing citizens throughout the country welcome Ukrainian newcomers into their communities. And we are happy to support their efforts.

We’ve had proposals from a wide array of informal initiatives and non-profit organizations that usually run other community activities, such as cultural events or free-time activities for families or children. What unites all of them is their efforts to facilitate the Ukrainian newcomers’ adaptation phase in the Czech Republic. Some projects are already dealing with tensions, which may slowly increase as the situation unfolds.

Types of projects we have supported

Language classes, education, mentoring

In Jablonné v Podještědí, Harrachov and Horní Počernice, residents are supporting newcomers in their efforts to learn Czech as quickly as possible so that they may start working, ideally in positions that at least partially correspond to their educational level and experience. Some classes are run by volunteers and they have asked us for money for textbooks and teaching materials. Other groups are hiring professional teachers and complementing their activities with volunteer language clubs. Some organizations have also embarked on adult education about the labor market or information meetings with experts on health, education and how local institutions work. In Olomouc, for example, a group is offering peer-to-peer mentoring where young Czechs will offer language support to their Ukrainian peers and help them explore the city and its opportunities.

Free-time activities

Most of the Ukrainian newcomers are mothers with children. Family centers and scout groups are organizing activities for children to give them active ways to spend their time while also freeing up their mothers’ hands so that they can devote themselves to work or job searches. Our groups are offering excursions to help Ukrainians learn about their new home and give families a way to get to know Czech families.

Neighborhood get-togethers, festivals and celebrations

Lots of groups are holding neighborhood festivities involving Ukrainian newcomers both as participants and co-creators of the events. We are seeing their integration in long-standing events such as ‘Experience the city differently’, or completely new opportunities. Food and culture have proven to be a great connecting element, as we saw at a charity event at the Old School, which was the first project we visited as part of the program.

Charity event at the Old School
A group of residents in Vraný nad Vltavou holds a charity event every year. For many years, the association organized it to raise money for itself, because the building of the former school and the garden needed a lot of repairs. This year, however, the situation was completely different. After the war in Ukraine began, an exceptional meeting was convened, where Mrs. Miroslava, a native Ukrainian who has lived in Vraný for more than 20 years, presented her view of the situation and the group around the Old School decided to make Ukrainians the beneficiaries of this year’s charity event. Since then, more than 70 refugees have moved to Vraný. They live in housing facilities or with families. The Old School opened their classes and club activities for children and adults to the newcomers free of charge and involved them in planning the charity event. Two families promised beforehand to prepare refreshments, but at the event itself another woman showed up with more Ukrainian pies and mushroom blini. She had heard about the event from her fellow Ukrainians and wanted to thank the residents for their help during her first weeks and months in Vraný. Ukrainian musician Ljubov Plavska, who has found refuge in Prague, sang at the event.

Thank you

We thank, Nadace Kooperativa, Česká spořitelna bank and Bader Philantrophies for supporting the program.