Hodonín: Kousek štěstí z knihovny (Czech)

To keep the sky from falling – Remarkable stories of human unity



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In Hodonin, Fatima Rahimi went to a branch of the city library. There she met with action librarian Alena Přikrylová, social worker Martina Hurychová and Anastasia Sirenko, who works as a Czech-Ukrainian liaison. The children, a couple of mothers and one grandmother created a mummery of laughter, songs and rhymes with the three of them - Fatima even sang one with them. Listen to the story of how a few women can make a library a haven for a whole community. 

Hodonín was the only town in our country, besides the affected villages, where a tornado raged in 2021. Local people know what it is like to lose the roof over your head or to help your neighbours. After the war broke out, people from Ukraine came here looking for safety and needed to find their way around the new environment. They received invaluable help at the town library, where regular meetings with the children and their families still take place. The Hodonín story is also the focus of a new podcast from the International Organization for Migration about the hidden power of our communities.

According to Alena Přikrylová, librarian at the Hodonín branch of the Municipal Library, the library is a community centre that should offer a comfortable space and a place for various events and activities for the general public. One of these activities is helping Ukrainian refugees. They came to Hodonín in search of safety right after the outbreak of the war. Alena and her friend Martina Hurychová from the Hodonín Regional Charity decided to help to the best of their ability. The interior of the library branch became a place where they started a group for Ukrainian children, their mothers and grandmothers.  

Although the children were shy at the beginning, they quickly softened up and spending free time with Alena and Martina became a regular program for them. "We explain mathematics, write paper projects for school, I print out various materials and documents for them. We also made presents for our classmates. They may be such small things, but it makes it easier for the children to adapt in here," says Alena Přikrylová, listing the daily activities. The children feel comfortable here, they borrow books in Ukrainian and now also in Czech. In addition to the children, the library also helps their mothers and grandmothers, for example with finding information, whether it is about looking for a doctor or a job.

Small activities often grew into larger dimensions, for example when they rehearsed a performance with children in the library, which was attended by 160 people, or when they organized a Christmas concert. "We have a roof over our heads and have no problem giving a piece of that happiness, so to speak, to someone else," says Martina Hurychová about the initiative. 

A story from Hodonín about how a couple of women can create a sanctuary for a whole community in a library is the subject of the fourth episode of the new podcast "To keep the sky from falling - Extraordinary stories of human cohesion" by the International Organization for Migration. The podcast is hosted and narrated by journalist Fatima Rahimi, who travels to five Czech cities to meet groups supporting Ukrainian refugees and their families. Rahimi gradually discovers how a consciousness of togetherness is emerging that has helped us cope surprisingly well with the unprecedented migration situation over the past year.

"When I saw Martina and Alena together, their connection between the library and the charity seemed obvious. What connected them was not a project, but the need to help others," comments Fatima Rahimi in the podcast. 

A five-part podcast series So the sky won't fall - Extraordinary Stories of Human Cohesion created by Kineticon. It is publicly available for listening on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or YouTube. Voiceover of the podcast is narrated by Petra Bučková. The selection of the communities for the podcast was made in cooperation with the Via Foundation, which supported the projects of communities from Beroun, Klatovy and Jablonec nad Nisou from its From Ukraine Among Us programme. The project is commissioned by the International Organization for Migration - IOM Czech Republic and is based on the global It Takes a Community movement celebrating how all people, regardless of where they were born, contribute to making our communities better places to live and call home.