The festive gathering at the shelter home at Renoirová Street 7 in Prague 5 was attended by Tomáš Chrenek, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Agel a.s., Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka OP, and Jaroslav Němec, Director of Caritas of the Archdiocese of Prague among others.
„In the Agel Foundation, we have found a strong partner and patron for our facility, the Gloria Shelter Home, who will help us cope with the financial uncertainty associated with a public subsidy that is limited to a one-year commitment – and that is moreover too modest to cover operational expenses,“ says Němec, who accepted a CZK 600,000 check from the foundation’s representatives. A memorial plaque will be put up on the facility’s walls to commemorate the kind patronage of the Agel Foundation.
Helping hundreds of mothers
The Gloria Shelter Home provides temporary accommodation to about 100 mothers and their children every year. Through the creation of a safe space, the provision of social counseling, the promotion of parenting competencies, and the offer of empowering activities, the facility helps mothers draw new strength and acquire the skillset needed for returning to a normal life.
The assistance which clients receive at the shelter is based on the realization that the bond between mother and child is both the strongest of all interpersonal bonds and at the same time immensely fragile. The „investment“ of a mother into her child at an early age determines the child’s future in a fundamental and unique way. It was found that mothers who approach women’s shelters for help are themselves in dire straits – not only in material terms, but also in psychosocial terms. They have no one to turn to and usually suffer from a non-existent social network and broken social ties. Often they have themselves been trapped in dysfunctional family relationships and received little in the way of parental attention and love during their own childhood. They then perpetuate this pattern, finding themselves unable to cope with the challenges of child-rearing, to listen to their children, and to properly spend time with them.
Klárka, Lucka, Gábina, and Mikuláš are school-aged kids who, thanks to the Agel Foundation, had the opportunity to go to summer camp this year. „It was awesome. We did pottery every day and learned how to use a potter’s wheel. Four of my friends from the arts & crafts class at school went as well. I was sad at first that I would not be able to join them, because Mom has no money right now. But it worked out in the end. These were the best summer holidays ever,“ enthuses nine-year old Klárka.
Klárka’s mother ended up at the women’s shelter a few months ago, having lost the roof over her head when she ran away from a husband who would beat and humiliate her on a regular basis. The situation escalated and started to take its toll on the children as well. Eventually, the woman, desperate, with close to no self-confidence, three plastic bags in hand and two children in tow, appeared on the threshold of the Gloria Shelter Home one day, following the recommendation of a friend. It was here that she found safety, support, and the will to begin a new chapter in her life.
Gratitude for open hearts
„Many of our clients have lived through similar ordeals. When they find out about the kind of help which a women’s shelter is capable of offering, they regret that they did not leave their abusive partner earlier. They’d spare themselves lots of humiliation and avoid a life spent in constant fear for themselves and their children,“ says Sister Imelda, Director of the Gloria Shelter Home. „I want to thank the Agel Foundation for the generous funding of equipment and operating expenses. Ms. Chreneková, Ms. Nováčková, Ms. Ostruzsková, Ms. Sládková, and the other people running the foundation devoted much of their time to us and our clients. During their visit to our shelter, they were keen to learn about how we operate, to hear more about the situations which compel mothers to seek refuge here, and to find out what we might need. They set time aside to sit down with our clients and have a chat with them. Thank you for your open hearts!“