Kindness begets kindness

We are looking for the stories of little-known, kind-hearted people who selflessly do extraordinary things for those around them.

Do you know someone like this?

Description of nominated "gentle story"
Nominated Laskavec
Nominující

Can you remember when someone gave you a friendly smile “just because”? When was the last time you saw a completely ordinary act of kindness in your surroundings? In today’s hurried times, in which we barely cope with our daily duties, most of us don’t manage to observe how people behave towards one another. We often take good deeds for granted. In the Karel Janeček Foundation, we believe that they should become a natural part of people’s lives. That’s why we want to seek out such deeds, draw attention to them, and reward the “kindsoul” responsible for them.

Look around you! Maybe someone nearby deserves our attention. Now you have an opportunity to thank them via the “kindsoul” programme. We choose one story for publication every month. Maybe this month it will be yours!

If you have an interesting tip, please send it to us.

Stanislav Sadílek: A replacement family for homeless boys

Principled, but empathetic. That’s Stanislav Sadílek, an altruist who never writes anyone off in advance. He doesn’t turn his back on those who have hit rock bottom, become addicted to drugs or alcohol, who played gaming machines, or lost their home. Instead, he strives to show them that someone also cares about them. He saved his first boy back in the 1990s. Today, hundreds of youths are now standing on their own feet thanks to him. He found them a place where they can be accommodated and he built a going concern where he employs the boys.

He never gives up and, even if his efforts don’t succeed at first, he’s willing to offer a helping hand a second, fifth, or even tenth time. He’s also decided to leave all his possessions to desperate souls with no purpose in life. He believes that, in order for society to evolve, it’s necessary to care not only for your own family, but for strangers as well.

 

Václav Klapetek: I awaken a love of nature in people

Václav Klapetek began worshiping nature at an early age. As a boy, he decided to create a birch alley, which he still looks after to this day. He waters the trees from a forest spring, which he has transformed into a well and a place of rest.  He then complemented the alley and forest oasis with a nature trail, which now has hundreds of admirers in the Opavsko region. And his work also has a higher purpose. After returning from developing countries, where he had built waterworks and power plants, he set up a business in his home village. He produces building sets for making birdhouses and insect hotels. Thanks to his products, parents and children are spending more time in harmony with nature. And without planning it, he has awakened people’s love of the natural world.

Libor Hoření: A food coffee for a good deed

Libor Hoření gives good coffee for a good deed. The young entrepreneur, who earns more money than he needs for his lifestyle, invests part of his profits into improving his surrounding environment.  And that’s what gave rise to DobroKáva, a coffee stand in Brno’s Vegetable Market (Zelný trh), where people don’t pay with money but with good deeds. Last year alone, the mobile, mood-improving coffee shop inspired more than 12,000 people – that’s how many coffees they managed to give out for kind and decent behaviour. DobroKáva is now in its second year as a going concern and its mission is still the same: to improve the environment in the Czech lands.  Libor Hoření believes that there is good in all of us. We just have to inspire it.

Věra Doušová: I run a food bank and help people

How much can a person manage in one life? Věra Doušová has made life easier for thousands of people. For more than ten years, she has run the Prague branch of the Potravinová banka food bank, helping people who are in trouble and don’t have money for groceries. At the same time, she also employs people who have been struggling to get by. For instance, she helped a family with four children so that their father could find his feet and start living again after a long illness. She makes trips with her husband to Scandinavian countries. She delivers medical aids such as wheelchairs, handbikes, etc. She rescued almost 2,000 fellow Czechs after the Chernobyl catastrophe by negotiating a resettlement act that enabled them to move to the Czech Republic. She organises summer camps for kids and festivals for ethnic Czechs from all over the world.

Stáňa Bašatová: I help children and adults!

The condition known as “pes equinovarus” or clubfoot is the most common birth defect in the Czech Republic affecting the leg. Two hundred children are born annually with deformed feet. Unfortunately, Ms Bašatová’s family has also been affected by this ailment.  That’s why she set up the Achilleus association in 2009 – the only organisation in the Czech Republic that brings together families that have been affected by clubfoot. Stáňa Bašatová has devoted herself to this issue for a long time. She has established a special service for lending out splints. Once a year, she organises a meeting for families with this affliction. She has set up a Facebook group, she prints leaflets, she publishes books, and even organises collections abroad. She does all of this in her free time for no personal gain…

Kateřina Soukupová: I help abandoned squirrels!

Have you ever found a lost squirrel that had fallen out of its nest? Kateřina Soukupová is a full-time mother for young squirrels. In 2008, she and her husband set up the Pinky rescue station to look after squirrel kittens. It all began after a fateful meeting with a wild squirrel called Pinky, whom Katka fell in love with while observing it for seven years. Each year, they take in around 100 squirrels at their rescue station. This kindly caregiver has already looked after almost 1000 squirrels. It’s a demanding task, which means that there are no days off, no holidays, and no end to the working day…

“When I see a young squirrel that was almost on its last legs and which is now living a happy and full life in the wild, that’s when I know that there is a point to it all.”

Jiří Stárek: I got senior citizens involved in the life of society!

The principal of the Elementary Art School in Hostivař opened an academy for the third age. One day, he had a great idea that would get senior citizens involved in the life of society. “If elementary art schools are free in the afternoons, then why not offer an artistic education to senior citizens as well?” he said. “We have fully equipped classrooms and qualified teachers.” And so, the grans and granddads who accompanied the kids to the Elementary Art School were also given the opportunity to study there. Completely free-of charge! There is huge interest in Jiří Stárek’s project – it is expanding throughout the Czech Republic as well as abroad. Typically, Jiří Stárek devotes himself completely selflessly to this project in his spare time…

“The school is not here for the school,” says #KindSoul Jiří Stárek “The school is here for living. In short, it’s about thinking about school, not as an institution that teaches the violin, but as something which produces beautiful people through teaching the violin.”

 

Pavla Medková: I look after sick children

She brings light to a place where another morning might not come after a long night. Pavla Medková works as a nurse in the children’s haematology-oncology ward at the University Hospital in Olomouc.  Nineteen years ago she established a tradition of making festive wreaths. Fourteen days before the first Sunday of Advent, she makes Advent wreaths with children and their parents. The aim is to cover the costs of Christmas presents for the children who are getting treatment in her department that year. This year, they managed to sell 500 wreaths for 170,000 Czech koruna. The department makes use of these proceeds throughout the year – covering parents’ travel costs, celebrations for children’s birthdays, etc. Pavla has also come up with the idea of holding fashion shows for children and she invites make-up artists and designers to these events. She does all this in her free time, above and beyond the call of duty. Together with her entire team, Pavla creates a light that inspires those around her. She does her work with love…

 

Jiří Klein: Good begets good!

Turn the police inside out? For the city police chief in Nový Jičín, that’s not a problem! Meet our first kind soul in the second series – Jiří Klein, who has brought freedom-at-work principles to the state sector. He was nominated by Michaela Holišová and, as she puts it: “What’s really important is that he opened up the police to the people.” Instead of collecting fines, the police look for their causes; they go on stake-outs to prevent bike thefts for free and, in the event of an emergency, they start people’s cars for them. Mr Klein regularly gives up his free time to have discussions over coffee with ordinary citizens. He organises lots of interesting events, such as the Rozběháme Nový Jičín campaign, which organises charity runs. For a good cause, he’s able to dive into water as cold as 2°C to raise money for a friend who’s going through some difficulties. He’s also happy to plant thousands of trees with his fellow citizens. “I believe that good begets good and evil begets evil,” says Jiří Klein who’s been given a Kind Soul award.

 

Olga Štrejbarová: Helping abandoned senior citizens!

Abandoned senior citizens in Vysočina have had their faith in Santa Claus restored, as their Christmas wishes have been fulfilled by another of our kind souls, Olga Štrejbarová from Jihlava! She set up a Facebook group called Ježíškova vnoučata (“Santa’s Grandchildren”) and in a very short space of time it acquired 1600 members who decided to sign up for this project. Thanks to this group, senior citizens were able to ask for almost anything – books, subscriptions to their favourite magazine, treats and goodies, a visit to a museum, a bicycle, or a ride on a Harley-Davidson accompanied by a convoy of motorcyclists.  People from 30 old folks’ homes throughout the Czech Republic had their wishes come true – which amounts to nearly 600 happy people! Olga did everything in her free time and she didn’t hesitate to pay for postage and transport costs. In 2015, Olga brought joy to people without a home. And now, using a collection of photographs of hearts, she has been having sheets made for people in hospices. As she says herself: “It costs you nothing to offer help with a smile”

Michaela Mikulenková

We went to Brno to visit the youngest kind soul to date. Twenty-two-year-old Míša Mikulenková has a very strong and emotive life story. It all began in 2006, when she was hit by a drunk driver.  Míša spent three weeks in a coma. The doctors didn’t give her much chance of survival, let alone that she would walk again. Míša managed it, however, and, as she says herself, “I was given a second chance.”

As part of a school-graduation project, she organised a benefit event called Life Stories of Well-Known and Not So Well-Known People (Životní příběhy známých i neznámých) whereby she invited people with a disability to talk about the difficult hand life had dealt them. Participants included people such as the writer Michal Viewegh and the sportsman Martin Zach. The benefit event was a great success, so Miša organised a second one the following year. The proceeds from both events went to good causes. She is now working on this project for the third year and does so in her free time without any remuneration. Míša has also spoken about this issue at a primary school in Luhačovice and she wants to continue doing these activities.

Vlasta Říhová: I help mothers in need!

To find our tenth kind soul, we went to Havířov. Ms Říhová set up a Facebook group called Havířov Mothers in Need (Maminky v nouzi Havířov) and it’s a site where women can go to seek help. Mostly it concerns mothers who have ended up in an accommodation facility or shelter, or who have been left alone with the children and without any income after a divorce.  Other mothers, who conversely have more than they need, use the site to offer clothes, toys, furniture, etc.  The group now nearly has 1,000 members. It has managed to help more than 300 mothers. And what exactly does Ms. Říhová do? She writes back to mothers, makes telephone calls, and arranges the handover, collection, sorting, and delivery of items… She is able to manage this never-ending carousel in addition to her own job. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she always has room at her table on Christmas Day for women who would otherwise be alone.

“I’m just a small figure who simply moves things back and forth so that people can be happy,” Vlasta Říhová modestly explains.

Zdeňka Morávková: I’m reclaiming the countryside and creating a community.

The Rychlebské hory mountains are one of the most isolated places in the Czech Republic.  Even today, one can sense the strangely sombre mood that prevails in this region, marked by the deportation of Sudeten Germans. There is high unemployment here – and lots of people without desire or motivation…

Zdeňka Morávková moved to this region six years ago and began partly reclaiming this area. She transformed a demolished church into the smallest Czech gallery. She organised guerrilla knitting events in the countryside, where women met for a coffee while knitting and crocheting – until they had done an entire Boží Muka shrine. She arranges art festivals, concerts, and exhibitions in the old Art Nouveau dancehall in Račí údolí for a minimum wage. She has created a community of parents who don’t subscribe to traditional forms of education and who managed after two years to open the first outdoor Montessori class in Jesenicko. She launched a parents club and with the aid of a grant succeeded in creating two jobs for local women.

“We strive to create the belief that it’s possible to change things for the better, regardless of whether it’s the countryside or a school,” explains Zdeňka Morávková

Miroslav Bouška: I look after abandoned cats…

You can do good deeds at any age. Miroslav Bouška is living proof of this!

For 20 years now, every morning and evening, regardless of the weather, in rain, hail, or shine, the natural scientist and geologist Miroslav Bouška (78) sets off on his route around Prague’s Kobylisy district to look after stray and abandoned cats. And it’s not only them who get looked after: he carries food and water with him every day for birds and urban wildlife. He does this despite having considerable health problems (Mr Bouška has difficulties walking and is almost blind.) Every month, he spends 1,500 CZK of his pension on food for felines. He has saved several generations of cats!

And what is the main reason for this? “I am paying back nature, which has sustained me my whole life,” says the former geologist.

Vendulka Koupilová: I’m a nurse and I see my job as a vocation!

Another kind soul awaited us in the picturesque village of Senice na Hané. Vendulka Koupilová is a nurse who also dedicates herself to patients outside the doctor’s surgery, tending to them in their own homes. She brings them bandages, gives them injections, collects medicine for them, and handles a lot of official red tape for them as well… She talks to her patients and brings a positive atmosphere into their homes. She sees her job as a vocation and she does all these deeds as a matter of course, devoting an extra few hours a day to them free-of-charge. She uses her own car and mobile phone for all of this… She also prepares parish newsletters. Every year, she takes a two-week holiday in order to take part in a children’s camp, which she regularly organises. Preparing this takes up a lot of her time.

Vendulka was nominated for the #laskavec project by her sister Dominika Doláková:
“I nominated my sister Vendulka Koupilová as a kind soul, because I am convinced that kindness is her best quality and her greatest gift. For her, doing good deeds is not a duty but a vocation.”

Father Šebestián: People who had nowhere to go knocked on the door…

Imagine that you are in a beautiful Franciscan cloister from the end of the 17th century. You are surrounded by incredible tranquillity and the history of the hall oozes from every corner of this baroque building. These unique rooms are where the story of another kind soul, Father Šebestián, begins. Openness, compassion, love – these are the words that come to mind when you meet with this exceptional man. Judge for yourselves…

“For 10 years, Father Šebestián has been opening his door and his heart to those for whom other doors are closed or who have lost their way and cannot cope. These lost souls are not just homeless people and ex-convicts, but also people who for various reasons have been unable to find their place in life. More than 50 “castaways” have found a home in the church buildings that he manages and more keep coming.  Besides his priestly duties, he attends to a number of everyday concerns: ensuring that people on the streets have a place to wash themselves, providing food and clothing, assisting with official procedures and processes, helping people relocate and furnishing them with basic requirements, and often even providing financial support to those whose need is most pressing. It is necessary to add that all of these activities are not a registered service. They are a rare example that even in today’s world it is possible to provide tangible and effective help “outside the system.”  – Karel Navrátil (nominator).

Igor Dostál: It’s bizarre that we have to be reminded to be kind in life!

This time we set out to Zlín to meet our next kind soul. Twenty-nine-year-old Igor spends his free time somewhat differently than his peers. He devotes more than three-quarters of his time to openhearted and unselfish projects. Firstly, he is the chief editor of the non-profit Zlinský nočník positive media project. Secondly, he has engineered projects, including the travelling charitable Book2Go, and the KnihoTrh, which sells second-hand books and then donates twenty crowns from each book sold to a good cause. The proceeds from the last event were given to Krystýnka, a severely disabled little girl in the Zlín Region. However, we found out that he does even more: as an independent artist he often creates graphic designs for non-profit organisations.

‘I think that it’s bizarre that we have to be reminded to be kind in life and in society; I think that kindness should be something that comes naturally, even an attribute that doesn’t need a special name. Indifference is what should be highlighted, something that is considered abnormal and should not occur so often …,’ explains Igor Dostál.

Miloslava Samcová: Nature takes a lot of punishment from us

“This story is about my mother. She is one of those people who likes to improve her surroundings and is not indifferent to what’s going on around her…” This is how Kristýna Veselá, the daughter of Miloslava Samcová, began her nomination text. Her mother has spent years beautifying the landscape of South Bohemia and rediscovering natural features. She thinks hard about how to get man back to nature. Her story really intrigued us, so we set off for southern Bohemia. We soon found ourselves beside a small fishpond “secluded in the woods” near the historical town of Tábor. Jetmarský mlýn (Jetmarský Mill) is an abandoned but magical place! Samcová’s family have lived her since 1634… It seems as though all of the picturesque landscape – the meadows, woods, the ponds – fits perfectly into Samcová’s concept. She installs wooden benches in the countryside, she repairs wayside shrines, she paints old pumps… which begs the question: Why does she do all this?

“I try to put old things back in a new coat, so that they can also be used a little bit for what they were intended, or so that they at least help pretty things up. If I find something ugly, dirty, or rusty somewhere, I turn it into a nice secluded place, which can bring joy in a few years. Nature takes a lot of punishment from us, so I try to at least do what little I can to help the common effort.”

Lenka Frková and Anežka Jedličková: We take care of abandoned dogs’ souls!

Young girls who share a love of dogs. Friends who decided to change the fate of dogs’ lives. Instead of lounging around in cafes, they save dogs who need help. To the detriment of their own personal lives, their own homes, holidays, and pastimes… They don’t hesitate to pay for the dogs’ care from their own pocket. They have fulfilled their dream by setting up an environmentally friendly mini-shelter, which has a beautiful name –Voříškov! There is no mains connection on the property, so they ensure electricity using solar panels. They get water from a well using a manual pump. In return, there are many contented dogs in the shelter who receive excellent care. They have changed from being timid, often mistreated, creatures into healthy and happy animals.

The girls were nominated for the #KindSoul project by their friend Zuzana Beránková. She used the nomination to express her gratitude towards them: “For years now, Lenka Frková has been actively involved in working with forlorn, abandoned dogs. When it’s necessary, she takes them home or finds them temporary care. For the past year and a half, she had been building her own mini-shelter with Anežka Jedličková. She campaigns against puppy mills and helps remedy the maladies that people have inflicted on dogs by not rearing them properly, so that they can easily find new homes. In short, I would say that she takes care of abandoned dogs’ souls.”

Hana Vaňousová: I will keep doing it as long as I can walk!

Rain, hail, or shine – in all kinds of weather she assists children in crossing the street on their way to school. For 20 years now, she has been organising afternoon dance events for pensioners. She collects tickets at the football pitch, she helps out at events during advent, and she bakes cookies for her neighbours. And watch out – you can’t miss her on the feast of St. Nicholas! That’s because she stands at the pedestrian crossing dressed in a devilish disguise, handing out lollipops to the children and giving parents a much-needed sense of security. Who are we talking about?

Allow us to present our second #KindSoul “in a skirt” – Hana Vaňousová from Poříčí nad Sázavou in Central Bohemia. Practically everyone in this picturesque town knows this woman! She is a woman who refuses to countenance the idea that she is “doing something extra” in her retirement. She is a woman to whom fate has not always been kind and yet she has devoted her life to helping others. Kind, unselfish deeds have an influence on our mental health and satisfaction with life, according to many scientific studies. Hana Vaňousová is clear proof of this! “The fact that I get kids across the street and do things for people is a reward in itself because they are grateful for what I do,” she says in conclusion, “I will keep doing it as long as I can walk.”

Jindřich Hašek: We strive to ensure that school and home are not the only things children know!

Imagine a classroom full of happy and contented children, who are enthusiastic and show no fear when answering questions in mathematics lessons. For them, the teacher is a role model and a genuine authority. He is not just the embodiment of unpopular written work, but strives to prepare them for real life, which is going on beyond the walls of their school. Then imagine that these pupils respect and like their teacher. Together, they agree on extracurricular excursions and vote on where they should go. The teacher does not let the grass grow under his feet and in his spare time he contacts various institutions and ensures the best possible conditions for educational school trips. Because he himself remembers from his own childhood how excursions used to be pretty dull, he does his utmost to combine education with entertainment. An afternoon outing to the Czech National Bank is followed by an afternoon spree at the Laser Game. The teacher devotes a lot of his free moments to the children in this way, at the expense of his own leisure time. To give you an idea of this – six to eight excursions a year, maths camps during the holidays, and rafting at the weekend… Yes, there are also people like this living among us – people who do something extra, who approach their work with enthusiasm, joy, and courage. Does that sound like a fantasy to you?

We found one such teacher in the primary school at Krušnohorská 11 in Karlovy Vary. We’d like to present you with our first-ever #laskavec: Jindřich Hašek, a teacher of mathematics, physics, and financial literacy, who views his work as a mission and sees great purpose in it. “I strive to ensure that school and home are not the only things children know, but that they are able to see life from a different perspective,” he says.

Veronika Pospíšilová: I support children’s education in Cambodia

Veronika is a student of ethnology at Charles University, so she spends part of each year in southeast Asia.  However, the year 2013 marked a turning point in her life. Although she had only gone to Cambodia as a tourist, she already knew upon leaving that she was not in that country for the last time. Consequently, she got to know the mayor of the place where she was staying and she asked him if there was any way she could help the local people. The mayor, who taught the local children at his house, told Veronika that they didn’t need anything except a school. Immediately upon returning home, Veronika set up Hvězdice (Starfish), a family non-profit organisation, and began looking for half a million koruna to build a school. Six months later, she was able to return to the country. She got the local community involved and together they were actually able to build a school, where more than 100 students now study every year. But she didn’t stop at building one school. Today, there are two schools in Cambodia thanks to her, and she also financially supports pupils and school operations.

We have big plans. Don't you want to miss something?

Yes I'm interested.