"Operation Brick" charity campaign launched in Prague

The needs of the disabled were severely neglected in the years of Communism. Returning disabled people to normal life and integrating them with their fellow citizens is a great challenge for the institutions that care for them today. Last week a campaign called "Operation Brick", designed to help the mentally handicapped, was launched in Prague. Alena Skodova was there and brings this report:

I found the organisers of Operation Brick under a big white tent on the Old Town Square, and the mood was really cheerful. The main goal of the venture is to sell bricks to passers-by, raising money for the construction of a house for the mentally handicapped. The venture is being organised by the Portus Association, and I asked Portus's Karel Bezdek to tell me more about it:

"Portus is a civic association which came into being at the Institute of Social Care in Horni Maxov in North Bohemia, and was in fact founded by several of our clients' parents. Several employees of the institute are now in Prague to organise Operation Brick. The proceeds will be used for the reconstruction of a special house for the mentally handicapped in Slapy, near Prague. They will move in in June. We believe that living there will give them more hope, and prove they're able to live more independently and more freely."

By the time I arrived at the launch there were already more than 20 bricks sold. I asked Karel Bezdek how far the building's reconstruction had gone, and how many people would eventually move in.

"It will be one house, a former parsonage which we obtained on a long-term lease from the church. With last year's proceeds we were able to do general renovation of the house - the roof, all the pipes, the heating and the facade - but that's only the lower part of the building, where the first five people will move in in two months' time. If we manage to collect enough money this time, another five people can move into the attic, which we intend to renovate in the autumn and at the same time build workshops from barns nearby."

"Operation Brick" will last till mid June, and as well as the Old Town Square you can buy your bricks at Museum and Mustek on Wenceslas Square, just around the corner on Na Prikope street, and at Prague Castle. The bricks cost 100 crowns, and by buying one you can be sure you've done a good deed.