The Giving-Back Series: Three Brno NGOs In Need of English-Speaking Volunteers
The aim of the Giving Back series is to provide space for the inspiring stories and good work of people and organizations in South Moravia that are creating positive change in society. The series showcases the journeys of ordinary people fighting daily battles to become the backstage heroes of local communities and their own lives, and invites others to contribute by volunteering, art-making, growing, healing, socializing, and committing to make the world better. Photo credit: Nesehnuti
Volunteering is the bread and butter of any healthy and resilient society. Those who volunteer in some way know that it is one of the most fulfilling ways to connect with your city and its people. Living in a utilitarian society in which we do almost everything for profit, volunteering can be that grounding, humbling, eye-opening experience of doing something just for the sake of doing it.
Even though the volunteering landscape in the city is still heavily Czech-language focused, if you look a little deeper, you will definitely find engaging ways to be a part of your local community, and give something back. A little research and a few words with NGOs in the region have shown me that foreigners are actually more welcome than they think to community activities. While non-profit organizations report being overwhelmed with their workload with the recent humanitarian needs arising, there is a lack of participation from the expat community in volunteering activities. In an aim to contribute to changing this, we introduce the first of three non-profit organizations that offer volunteering opportunities to foreigners in Brno.
DC67 – Your First Touch Point To Volunteering in South Moravia
DC67 is the bridge NGO that counts more than a hundred non-profits in its network in South Moravia. Launched with the support of the Czech Ministry of Interior, DC67 operates as a regional hub for local NGOs to meet, connect, and share their needs, promoting the concept of volunteering as an integral part of Czech society. The most recent activities of the organization include the coordination of humanitarian aid delivery to the Ukrainian refugees in Brno and assisting volunteer distribution channels among local NGOs.
For anyone who is interested in volunteering and knowing what opportunities are available in Brno and surroundings; the DC67 database will come in handy. The database clearly summarizes the organizations that work in different areas such as environment, social services and healthcare, animal rights, culture and art, human rights, children and youth, sports, and international development. Even though there are not many opportunities for expats to volunteer directly at DC67, with a short consultation with the NGO’s officers and through their wide network, it is easy to get guidance towards volunteering opportunities that are the right fit for your interests.
The DC67 officers advise expats to download the MUNI Pomaha mobile application, which is a volunteering network platform working as an offer & request system for non-profit activities. The NGO also suggests that among the many fields of volunteering, environmental activism is the best fit for expats, whereas volunteering in senior homes, for example, would be a difficult option due to language barriers. This is due to the fact that the volunteer work in the environmental area does not require a proficient level of Czech; the activities are mostly manual, such as planting trees or taking care of animals, and organizations in this field are always ready to welcome new faces. DC67’s recommended organizations for environmental volunteer work are:
- Větvení for planting trees around Brno,
- Hojnost for eco-friendly agricultural production and package-free shopping
- Kaprálův mlýn for environmental education,
- Útulek Tibet for taking care of animals.
Furthermore, the organization is ready to offer support to anyone who bringing ideas and initiatives to promote active citizenship. Photo credit: DC67
For those interested in running educational and purposeful workshops, DC67 offers a meeting room at their offices in Bratislavská that can be rented for free. At the same time, it is possible to get first-hand information about EU-funded international volunteering programs such as the European Solidarity Corps. Those interested may visit DC67’s website and Instagram page for more information.
Nesehnuti – Independent Social Ecological Movement
Nesehnuti is a highly active non-profit organization with a main focus on environmental awareness, as well as running activities to promote animal rights, human rights, social inclusion, and international cooperation. Nesehnuti’s aim is to inspire and empower people to be more active, engaged citizens and support individuals and communities to create a more just, equal world.
These days, the organization is working to meet the humanitarian needs arising due to the war in Ukraine, community-building with migrant groups in Brno by organizing international cooking sessions, and running campaigns to supplement public schools with plant-based meals. Photo credit: Nesehnuti
The NGO reports that they are focusing on bringing back their pre-pandemic energy and activities, and they appreciate as much participation in their activities as possible from volunteers regardless of their linguistic skills. “Our volunteers are our decision-makers. If you see something that needs to be improved or changed in society, come and talk to us, and we will do our best to support your idea in any way we can!” says Kateřina Kilianová, who is responsible for the organization’s ongoing community program, Together for Diversity. “The program offers a popular activity called Join the Table, which I believe would be very interesting for expats. Sharing food is a great way to connect people and cultures, so we invite Czechs and foreigners to share recipes, memories and diverse perspectives through this event,” says Kilianová, underlining that volunteering in an international city like Brno has such perks as community events in addition to sharing responsibilities. “We would definitely be happy to see new faces hosting the Join the Table event, introducing their cuisines, and teaching young people how to cook recipes from different cultures.”
Brusinka Multicultural Center
Brusinka Multicultural Center works with the social inclusion of minority groups living in the South Moravian Region. The organization offers a variety of multicultural activities for families and children along with professional development for teenagers and adults.
The organization mainly focuses on Russian, Czech and English-speaking groups to support multiculturalism, a sense of tolerance, togetherness and intercultural education. Photo credit: Brusinka
Brusinka offers a great variety of language courses and translation services in Italian, English, Russian, Czech and German, and soon French will be added to their catalogue. At the same time, they organize educational sessions in arts, music, drama, chess and sports as well as cultural trips, camps and creative workshops. The representatives report that their biggest need at the moment is for volunteers to support the translation of their website from Czech to English, and proofreading of the translated version by native English speakers. They underline the urgency of this need due to the rising numbers of migrants and refugees in Brno. “We would appreciate any initiatives taken by foreign volunteers to create a stronger sense of togetherness and resilience in Brno society. We welcome volunteers who can communicate well, get people together and take part in creating community engagement events that would include migrant groups. We provide space and marketing support to those interested in taking the lead in such activities,” says the managing director of Brusinka, Viktoria Nikolaeva. She underlines that the organization is taking active participation in the preparations to help the City of Brno to become the 2028 European Capital of Culture. “Our city deserves to see its divergent groups together in more festivals, workshops and events; and our organization is ready to accept initiatives from expat communities.”