The Croatian catholic church have organized the second year of the volunteer
project 72 sata bez kompromisa. There are lot
of countries like Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Great
Britain, Germany or Slovakia, that have same-named project.
Do you want to visit Croatia?
Around a week before opening the project Česká rada dětí a mládeže
(Czech organisation for the informal children groups) sent a Facebook status
with offer to participate in the Croatian 72 sata project in the time of the
Czech 72 hodin project. They promised to pay a part of the costs to the
transport and Croatian church offered the free accommodation in catholic
seminary with meals.
I didn’t hestitate. After a while we had a team of 5 people and we was able
to go to our destination: Dubrovnik. Our team was composed of my brother Matěj
Turek, his classmate Jenda Papoušek, Máří Manková from Skautský institut
(scout institute) and Hanka Ouředníková from Prázdninová škola
Lipnice – Outward Bound International (Czech organisation that use
experiential education nay in the courses they organize).
Dubrovnik is not so far away
Due to fact that 3/5 of people in our vehicle owned the driver licence we
could ride almost without the stops. Exculding the pee-stops we had only one
stop for a short three-hour sleep at some gas station in Croatia.
One lucky boy (me) had medical reason (nasopharyngitis had attacked me
2 days before our departure from Czech republic, there as a pretty good chance
to not going to Dubrovnik) to sleep with woman-car crew in the trunk. The
remaining members had to survive while sleeping in the sleeping bags on the
sleeping pads at the asphalt next to the car. There was around 4 °C.
After the sunrise we realised that we don’t see the sea. After that we
started the car and inferred that the speed limits aren’t useful. Croatian
highways are without holes, they are like new. We had used lot of dirty words
pointed to Czech poor quality highways.
Near the Dubrovnik is about 10 km long stretch that is located in Bosna and
Hercegovina. And there is one geocache! We had (and still have) pleasure
To Dubrovnik we drove along the empty roads. We said, that it have to be
terrible in summer because of the invasions of tourists, to us. Croatians
confirmed it after a few days. They said that it could be up to 6 hour in
We met Dubrovnik’s volunteers
In Dubrovnik we met Tomo. He was one of the main coordinators of the project
and our leader too. He found a free parking place to us and introduced us to
Anna. Anna was the second coordinator. He showed us our accommodation in the
seminary located in the old town of Dubrovnik. The building as divided to the
school and to a place for some projects supported by a church. There was a nice
terrace with the view of the Dubrovnik’s ramparts and nice sea behind them.
Imagine the dinner with a bottle of wine and envy.
The opening of the 72 sata bez kompromisa happened in the Franciscan
Monastery of the Friars Minor. Local priest lead the holy mass in the Croatian
language but in the right way. His speech was loud and clear. We were able to
catch the highlights and the content in general.
After the holy mass Anna (the same Anna which accommodate us) started her
speech with the fast cadence. There was no chance to catch anything. We had nice
invitation to the common dinner with the coordinators of the project after that.
There was our chance! We asked about translation her speech to English. We
realised that she spoke about the last year (the first year of the 72 sata
project) and the in that day still secrete work tomorrow.
During the dinner and the following days we found how strong the effect of
the religion is to the given names. I guess that around 90 % of all women
names are Anna or Maria. Men names are Ivan or Josip. Names are inherited from
father or mother to all of the daughters or sons.
There’s no holy mass like holy mess
First day there were around 30 people at the meeting place. There weren’t
the same people in the all of the days of the project. If someone could and
wanted to come, he came. Croatians had divided us to a two groups. We had
different experiences from that day.
Matěj and Máří edged the wooden grids of some chapel. After that they
painted them with some lacquer. It was needed because the salt from the sea
regularly destroys the paint. During the ork had their working team lots of
breaks to a cigarette and snacks with coffee that were given from the local
people to them. The style of work was the same like the working style of other
groups. The time for work was around 30 to 45 minutes. After that was a break.
The south lazy working style was the norm. We from Czech had to getting used to
do the things lazier and longer with less exertion. One Croatian lady had to
calm down Matěj. She was worried about his health because of his fast
Me, Hanka and Jenda rode with Anna in her „Flinstone car“ and followed
Tomo with the car full of around 10 people. We stopped at the suburbs or a
village near to the Dubrovnik. There were a priest and a housewife. Something
terrible ere coming.
During the introductory mass Tomo said what is going on here to us. The story
started before 25 years. The mother (and the head of the family) died.
Unfortunately she was the person who hold the family to be viable. After her die
there was only her daughter Jadranka which has a mental disability,
Jadranka’s husband which wasn’t able to keep reality and their son with a deep
mental retardation. He was excited of the toys for three-year old child in his
25 years. Another problem of this family was the alcoholism of the
Jadranka’s husband. The Croatian social services failed.
Family wasn’t able to care about herself. Garbage were everywhere. In front
of the house was a cigarette flowerbed with lot of empty cigarette boxes. Next
to the flowerbed were empty bottles and boxes of wine and other alcohol. The
hill behind the house was full of the plastic bags from rubbish bin. The family
didn’t take the rubbish into the containers for it. They threw it to the nature
behind the home.
The next terrible thing as that Jadranka didn’t wash their clothes. If she
needed new clothes, she went to the charity and there took a new one. Nobody
paid an attention of it for 25 years. Tomo said that it’s so difficult to
control it. I don’t know, but it’s weird that nobody noticed it.
Jadranka didn’t throw the dirty clothes to the trash. She carefully hoarded
up the clothes in their house. When we came into the house, we saw one room
which was almost full of the clothes, bags, handbags etc. The second room was
better. There was one empty bed. The second bed was full of the clothes and
things like a radio, televisions, circular saw and so on.
It was necessary to take the veils and gloves. We rewarded it especially at
the lower cases of the mess. There we could get the waste to the bags by
pitchforks and shovels. There were lot of dust like at the site too.
For me it was unimaginable when I realised that there were 3 people in the
house which were sitting on the sofa in the room with television but only one
bed in the house. Tomo shocked me when he said that he was not sure but he
thought that they were sleeping while sitting.
Only Jadranka from the family had an interest about the situation. She as
finding a social contact with us but unfortunately the fact was that she were
standing at the places where we had to go with the bags filled of the mess. The
next situation was with medicaments. There were some plastic bags full of the
up-to-date medicaments. I tried to throw it away, but Jadranka took it back. Me
(Jadranka was speaking in Croatian language) and other people couldn’t stop her
by arguments. It was difficult to speak with Jadranka until she realised that we
are not Croatian. She carefully asked if we speak English and then she started
to speak in English like a native speaker. It surprised me.
First day we gathered I guess about 6 smaller containers of the mess and
2 containers of the clothes which charity will wash and get out to the people
that need it.
The day after
At morning we were divided into two groups. I rode with Tomo and lot of nice
Croatian girls to the village near to the Dubrovnik. We potted the apple jams,
baked a sweet pastry for the pour people with five and more children. It was so
pleasant to have a talks without the rude words to the mess at Jadranka. So, now
I understand the mentality of the catholic a little more. I recognised that
Electronic Evidence of Taxes is the same evil like in Czech Republic. I saw
that the lazy working-style can be even more lazy than I could imagine
Ivan instructed me: „Andrej, in Croatia work only woman. Look at this.“
He pointed at the scenery with the working ladies and him with the cigarette
nestled in the plastic chair. „Just chilling. Smoke a cigarette and chill out.
Try it, Andrej, try it.“ The fact that the style of the work is so different
in Czech I explained only partly to him. He understood but he shook with his
head and didn’t accept it. After a while he did the balls from sweet pastry
For me was so astounding that the smoking was a norm. And the preparing of
the food was not an exception. Some girl about 15 years old (she studied the
first year of the high school) smoked a cigarette and it was OK for the adults.
Even the priest smoked – in the closed room with kitchen. He was a
representative person for others and they started to smoke too. Only one lady
didn’t smoke. And she was the nicest of all of them (apology to the other
Rest of the Czech team that day worked at the Jadranka again. The room with
the kitchen was coming. The first idea was to sort the food with non-expired
date. It seemed like a bad idea after the discovered dead rats, some snake and
even cockroaches after the moving with kitchen unit.
There is a pretty good chance that the worst thing was fridge. It has no
magnets and there was a sophisticated closing system including some wire. After
the guys opened the fridge they saw lot of cheeses, salamis etc.
Jadranka’s family didn’t throw out out-of-expiration-date food. They added more
and more layers of the fresh food on the bad food in the fridge. The food was
full of worms and after some guy discovered the middle layer there were so ugly
smell from it. Three people vomited immediately.
After throwing out all the mess Croatian church got some new furniture to the
house. There will be disinfestation, painting works etc. Some social worker will
be coming to the family regularly. If it will help to change their habits is
In the evening there were feast where we could meet the volunteers from the
project which we didn’t see at our working places. All the project were closed
in very pleasant spirit for us. Especially the next day when – after our
arrival from the trip to Montenegro – we got the invitation to the coffee on
the beach. It wasn’t so sold than we could swim for a while. For the first look
it could seem that it wasn’t so good idea with the nasopharyngitis for me. But
I can vindicate it. My doctor said: “Don’t be at cold and gargle the salt
water!” I filled the 50 % of his wishes. I gargled the salt water while
swimming in the sea.
The sense of our journey
When we rode the car along the Croatian highways we wondered about the sense
of spending lot of money for our journey. Why? For one article? For the PR? For
the sign in the excel table “make a international project”? Maybe all in
one. We didn’t understand why Croatians don’t get five people from their own
inhabitants. But for us it seemed like a nice vacation.
After our arrival to the Czech Republic I have different point of view.
I see the sense in the understanding of the catholic mentality and in common in
the leading the project 72 hours. And after that in the getting our experiences
and knowledges further to the Czech Republic.
In the contrast of our project 72 hours pointed to the local help in the
form of cleaning the public spaces, planting trees, renovation of anything, the
Croatian project is pointed so individual. Especially thanks to the church where
local priests knows their people and their situations. If priest know the bad
situation of somebody and has a trust, he can react. Maybe we in Czech Republic
don’t know these people because we aren’t in the (close) contact with them.
Maybe nobody would know about Jadranka if the church didn’t exist. Jadranka
was (and still is) addicted to the church and her help. But the second fact is
that she accepted the help. And that the priest knew about her. Same like church
know about lot of pour people with five and more children. And the main thing is
that people trust the church – that’s the reason why people aren’t rejecting
her help. In the words of the Croatians: “If there were no priest, Jadranka
would be scared of us and probably she would reject our help.”
I’m convinced that it’s good to think about including the individually
pointed help for the people with the bad social or life situation to the Czech
version of the 72 hour project.