After Christmas we not only returned to our school desks and duties but some of us also returned to the life in the resident community Baraka (more info on our web). We successfully finished our first half year and we continued in our regular program, although we did have some unique experiences, which we especially enjoyed. An example of this is our weekend getaway to the Benedictine monastery in Sampor. We spent here three days, when we could quiet down and reflect about our own lives as well as peek into the lives of the monks by having personal discussions, shared lunches and by voluntary participation in their prayers (some of us got up to participate even on the one which was held at three in the morning!).

We also took part in a seminar within the Great Works Academy, which was led by Mirka from the Academy and it was about the piece The Wise Woman from a Scottish author and the founder of the fantasy genre- George McDonald. The tale was very captivating and timeless. We had the opportunity to think and discuss more deeply about character and virtue.


Photo n.1 (author: Eva Bročková): With father Joseph, whom accompanied us during the whole weekend. (monks are addressed either by „father“ or „brother“)

Another collective activity was cooking a dinner for homeless people in the Bunkhouse DePaul. We realize, that even in our city there are many people whom spend winter on the streets without the option of returning into the warmth of a home. That is why we decided to give them a piece of our time and energy. The Bunkhouse DePaul is the biggest accommodation facility for homeless people in central Europe. It has been functioning for 13 years now and its capacity is 200 people. For one symbolic euro the bunkhouse offers homeless people accommodation with the option of being served a dinner which is prepared by either volunteers or the employees. And so, we, 11 baraka residents cooked stew for those who came that night. And there was a lot of them!

Photo n.2 (author: Dávid Gubáš): Collective slicing 🙂

It all began with collective peeling of onion (yes, we also cried together😊), slicing meat and a never-ending amount of potatoes. We were quite fast and so we had time for a tour of the whole complex, which was given to us by Ľubo, a terrane social worker. He explained how the area is used but also how a routine with the homeless people looks. We could talk about the problematic of homelessness with Kika, another worker, whilst preparing breakfast for the next day.

For most of us the most impactful experience was the actual serving of the stew to the homeless. Direct contact with a person in need is something that almost always unsettles a person. You´re a bit embarrassed. Are you supposed to say something or not? Should you smile, or stay serious? We met all sorts of different people, but we realized that despite difficult life circumstances these people have the same human dignity as we do.

We had a very varied January. The second half year began in the meantime. Other than preparing for maturita us awaits other seminars from th Academi of big pieces, we are also looking forward to a visit from Allan and Caulene Bussard from the Foundation Integra, as well as a visit from Tomáš Komrska, the author of Zápisky z Trolejbusu and a speaker on the recent TedX Youth which was organized and visited by several bilgym students. In near future we would like to help at the Community San´t Egidio which prepares and distributes food to homeless people.

Wish us luck and we encourage you to join us by following the info below!

Zuzka Kotvanová

P.S.: Cooking dinner or helping Bunkhouse DePaul in any other way is one of the great opportunities for doing charity. There are other organizations, such as Vagus and Community of Sant´Egidio which are helping homeless people.