History of our work
The name "Klíček" has two symbolic meanings in Czech: it either may be that of "a little key" - unlocking something that has been locked up, or "a germ" - the very first, freshborn part of a plant, still frail and vulnerable but at the same time containing the promise of things to come; full potential to grow into a beutiful herb or to become a strong, mighty tree.
The very "birth" of the Klíček Foundation was preceded by several years of personal contact with hospitalised children. This made us realise how important even the seemingly most ordinary and common everyday things are for those who have to spend their days within hospital walls. How precious it is for them to be with the loved ones, to sit under a tree, to go for a walk in the forest, to touch pets and animals, to enjoy a lovely and beautiful day and the very fact that one doesn't feel any pain at a moment and can take, for example, something good to eat. We healthy people find all these things so ordinary that we often forget to feel joy and gratitude over them.
Our first and original aim was to set up a house with a big garden in the countryside. The house would be open to sick children and their families both during treatment and after treatment is over, and would offer opportunities for having a rest as well as for being creative, playful and also helpful to others. We wanted the house to become a place where people could get new strength, and would feel well and be just like home.
Many children whom we met in the hospital have already died. Thanks to them, we have realised how important it is to pay attention also to those children whose treatment didn't turn to be successful. In other countries, where efforts have been made to help sick children and their families during these difficult periods in their lives, children's hospices have been founded to meet this need. Our original idea of the "open village house" has been extended during the years to include also the hospice-care dimension.
In summer 1997, the Klíček Foundation was given an old village school with a big garden, some 60 kilometres from Prague. We are currently working to set up the children's hospice just there. Reconstruction of the old building finished in 2004 - the house now can serve to families with children who still are relatively self-contained (who do not require intensive nursing care and are not bed-ridden) and fulfills in many aspects the original idea of the open house. Next year, we plan to start purpose-building of a new nursing unit that will be able to offer comprehensive palliative care, including the terminal care. The school building and its services will be available also to the nursing-unit clients all day round.
There are, however, many things one can do to help the sick children also during their stay in hospital. Children usually suffer most from being separated from their parents. One of our Foundation's aims therefore is to help in making Czech paediatric hospitals more children-friendly and open to parents.
Hospital playwork is another remarkable step towards a truly children-friendly hospital. Professionals in the discipline explain to the patients (and their families) the course of treatment, tell them what treatment procedures are going to be like and what they are good for. Our Foundation is encouraging Czech hospitals to incorporate playwork and to have playworkers as regular members of ward teams. We also try to emphasize the role of hospital volunteers.
Since 1992, we have been organising summer camps for children after a long hospital treatment. The campsite with big Indian tee-pee tents acts, in fact, much as our prospective open house should in the future. The camp programme is designed to offer the participants various opportunities of spending time and learning new skills. Our wish (and effort) is to create a free and friendly atmosphere, to make people notice the interconnectedness of all things in our world and to realise the very personal, individual responsibility which people have for anything they do.
We work under very modest conditions - nevertheless, the right amounts of money have always come in the right time to make possible the work and the projects that just were to be done. Our Foundation's work could hardly be done without dozens of voluntary helpers who give their time, energy and invention to bring our Foundation's ideals to life.