It was a year like no other. We all experienced a lot of changes and uncertainty and will probably remember 2020 forever. And although it was a tough year for Caritas Czech Republic as well, there were certainly moments worth highlighting.
Whether it was the immediate relief after the Beirut explosion, the recycling projects in Mongolia or a milestone in our work in Georgia, we sure did a lot of things last year. Let us take you through our moments of 2020 that should not be forgotten.
1) Enormous wave of solidarity after the Lebanon explosion
As if the pandemic alone was not enough, there were unfortunately other disasters in the past year. The Beirut port explosion was one of them. The blast that hit the Lebanon’s capital last August caused massive damage and lead to more than 100 deaths and about 300 000 people losing their homes.
The unfortunate event, however, evoked a great wave of solidarity around the globe. Including the Czech Republic. When local Caritas Lebanon immediately started helping local people hit by the crisis, Caritas Czech Republic sent 10 000 euro from its crisis fund to help the colleagues so they could provide material assistance to people who needed it most.
We also launched an appeal to help Lebanon as much as we could, and we raised more than 2 million CZK (approx. 76 500 euro) from the donors in the Czech Republic. This money was used for repairing the damaged houses and flats and also for distributing food, clothes and sanitary items to the people affected by the explosion.
Learn more about our help in Lebanon here.
2) We celebrated 5 years of our mission in Georgia
It seems like yesterday when we officially registered our branch in Georgia. And last year it had been 5 years since the start.
Nowadays, we focus on a number of issues in Georgia. We have projects in the fields of oncology, autism spectrum disorders, long-term and palliative care, and primary health care. Our aim is to make the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized people much better.
We also focus on rural development, as Georgia is a country where 42 % of its population lives in rural areas. Our aim is to improve livelihoods of the people in rural areas, support diversification of economic activities, develop new economic opportunities and so on.
In the past year, we also helped Georgia cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. We provided distant training in COVID-19 management to almost 1000 doctors.
In the beginning of last summer, we also started four new development projects in Georgia.
Read more about our help in Georgia here.
3) Caritas Czech Republic among the best rated European organizations
We were more than happy when we learned that we were among the first organizations certified by the EU agency ECHO to implement high-quality and efficient humanitarian projects in the years to come.
The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) is an EU agency providing urgent assistance to people affected by both natural and man-made disasters. It only works with selected certified partners, and we are proud to say that we have been working with ECHO since 2004.
In order to keep working with ECHO, we had to pass a thorough organizational audit. Last year, the audit was done by Deloitte and we passed it with the highest mark possible. This enables us to work with ECHO in the years 2021 to 2027.
This was definitely a highlight of the year 2020 for us and we are happy that we can continue helping more people in urgent need of humanitarian aid thanks to the ECHO certification.
4) Immediate help to people fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh
More than 20 000 people in Nagorno-Karabakh had to flee their homes due to the ongoing armed conflict that erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Immediately after the fighting began, Caritas Czech Republic sent 5 000 euro from its crisis fund to help refugees who escaped to Armenia. The money was handed over to our sister organization Caritas Armenia, which provided assistance to the people in need in the area.
5) Fighting climate change in Mongolia
There are many ways how to help protect the environment. In Mongolia, it’s addressing the construction and demolition waste.
Did you know that Mongolia produces massive amounts of construction and demolition waste? More than 80 % of this waste is illegally dumped which has harmful consequences on human health and on the environment.
Our branch in Mongolia was working on this issue in a project focused on recycling building materials. We are very proud to say that our work in Mongolia was recognized during the Barilga Expo 2020, Mongolia’s most prestigious construction exhibition. Caritas Czech Republic was awarded “The Best Project and Program Implementer” for our project in which we focused on improving the resource efficiency and cleaner production in the Mongolian construction sector through materials recovery.
Read more here.
6) Supporting poor farmers in Zambia
Agriculture is one of the top priorities for our work in Zambia. To make sure the support for the poorest local farmers is really effective, we must do more than just offer professional advice. That is why we started helping local farmers find customers.
But the farmers’ production capacity is often too low to meet the market demand. So we also encourage them to diversify the production and explore rearing poultry and small livestock as well.
Do you want to know what our help to farmers in Zambia looks like? Read about it here.
We continue helping the most vulnerable people
In the past year, Caritas Czech Republic has done much more than what is mentioned above. Whether it was improving shelter and living conditions of vulnerable families in the north of Iraq, strengthening healthcare in Moldavia or offering financial help to Italy and Spain when they were hit by the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year was tough for everyone and especially so for the most vulnerable people. We focused on helping them as much as we could and we will continue to do so in the years to come.