Painting a Brick for a Good Cause
2015 was the 16th annual Beneficial Brick Initiative
Just outside the Museum of Communism in Prague, on Na Prikope, we couldn’t miss an angled wall of brightly-colored bricks stacked in linked ‘towers’. It looks like a huge kids’ blocks construction (some say a ‘jenga’-like wall), in strong contrast to the ornate buildings of Prague, which encourages people to stop and look. We were very happy to do that, as it’s a cheerful story, and seemed even more so after the horrors we saw in the Museum of Communism.
Beneficial Brick Initiative is a nationwide charity fundraising campaign, created by Portus Praha Association to help mentally handicapped people better integrate into society. It starts in May each year, with opening festivities.
A small stall next to the wall has information on the project in many languages, bricks, paints, and T-shirts. For a donation of 150CZK (about $6-7) you get a brick that you can paint with your choice of colors, and then add it wherever you want in the stacked bricks.
Some of the contributors paint their names and inspirational messages with hearts and cute characters. Many paint the flag of their country, and it was fascinating to see how many countries are represented—from Slovenia, to Japan, to Israel, to Portugal, among many others.
We also saw a “Just Married”. A “Black Lives Matter”, sports teams, and “I Love (name)”.
Buying a brick supports the employment of handicapped people and helps them live a fulfilling life, with a better sense of self-worth. We find out that since 2000, more than 220,000 people have supported the campaign by buying a brick, and many others have contributed by sending a donation text message or purchasing an e-brick. Thanks to this financial aid the Association has been able to open more than 25 facilities for mentally handicapped people where they live, relax and work.
For example, the proceeds were used to construct and manage a supervised care-facility in the town of Davle, about an hour outside of Prague. The funds raised in this year’s campaign will be used to complete construction of a food workshop in Davle, which employs people with handicaps. The workshop manufactures pickled savories (such as cheeses and sausages) known as SAVOURIES WITH A STORY (DOBROTY’S PRIBEHEM), which you can buy at www.dobrotyspribehem.cz (in Czech only)
The price of a donation text message is 30 CZK, of which Beneficial Brick receives 28.50 CZK.