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Apr 15, 2019

Disabled people in Slovakia find their value in this shop

Mirka working on one of her hand bags
Mirka working on one of her hand bags

Have you ever thought about what you buy? Where the things you buy come from? And, most importantly, who you support with your choices as a consumer?

Not many of us have the time or even the opportunity to think about this. That is one of the reasons why people are delighted to hear about Great Shop, powered by the portal Great Country (Dobrá krajina). We created Great Shop to provide a platform for Slovak NGOs to sell hand-made products of their clients. Whether they help autistic children, people with Down syndrom or schizophrenia, or physically disabled people, thanks to art therapy, these people develop social skills, become more independent and often better cope with their disease or disability. In the art therapy sessions provided by the NGOs, they find their own value, inner peace, and sense of utility.

Before Great Shop, many of the products ended up in trash. Nowadays not only is the customer happy about supporting a good cause, buying a local products and helping marginalized people find their place in society, but the NGO finds new source of support and a platform to present its activities.

Extraordinary products by extraordinary people

They do not make just any products! Handbags, zero-waste cosmetic pads, brouches, candles, ceramics, games. All of these can be found in the Great Shop. What is more, the NGOs get almost all the profit from sales (95% of profits goes directly to NGOs, 5% is used to administer the portal).

These bags, an eco-friendly alternative to a plastic bag, were made by Mirka in one of the NGOs Claudianum – a day care center hidden in a small house in picturesque village Modra, Slovakia. Mirka is very precise when it comes to making bread bags or handbags. The work room is her oasis where she feels useful and meets friends. It makes her the happiest when someone buys her product.

We at Dobra Krajina (Great Country) only take 5% of the sales to administer the shop. We publish articles and promote Great Shop at various conferences, communicate with customers and try to talk about Great Shop everywhere we go.

Thank you for supporting our project. With your support we can continue to run Great Shop, promote it to new audiences and make Mirka and her friends of all corners of Slovakia feel happier and valuable.

Table mat made in Claudianum
Table mat made in Claudianum
Cosmetic pads for Eco woman :) made by Mirka
Cosmetic pads for Eco woman :) made by Mirka
Bread bags are eco-friendly alternative to plastic
Bread bags are eco-friendly alternative to plastic
That feeling of making something yourself
That feeling of making something yourself
Mar 19, 2019

Epiphany at Katarinka

At the beginning of each year, the ruins of Church and Monastery of St Catherine are usually still covered in snow and this beautiful location hidden in the forests looks totally calm.
But on the 6th of January 2019 the situation was different – instead of being all quiet, the whole area around the church ruins was bursting with life. This was due to the fact that our volunteers decided to organize a special public event – the so-called Epiphany Day Tour. Normally, it is not possible to go up the stairs to the top of the tower during winter season, as it is closed for the whole time. This year, for the first time in its history we made an exception and opened the sightseeing tower of the church to the visitors for one day during winter months.
As this was an official public event which was also presented on our webpage, there were large groups of tourists walking up the forest path on Sunday morning and huge number of visitors heading to the historical ruins also from the nearby parking. The visitors varied – you could see traditional winter tourists, cross-country skiers, teenagers, old people and families with kids on sleighs – but all of them had one thing in common: they were excited to spend the day at Katarinka, enter the opened tower and enjoy the look from its sightseeing platform on its top.
Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, which were trained as tower tour guides, more than 13 groups (each of them consisting of 16 people) could visit the tower, hear interesting facts about the history of the church and also enjoy the breathtaking view on the mountains from the top of the tower. Meanwhile, there were constantly new curious visitors gathering at the entrance to the tower – these tourists, who stayed on ground waiting for the tour, had the possibility to enjoy a cup of hot tea, which was also prepared and offered by our young volunteers. We were very positively surprised by the number of the visitors, who came to spend the Epiphany Day at Katarinka despite the cold weather – we estimate that the total number of tourists reached 300 people and more than 200 out of them took part in the guided tour in the tower. Due to this success and positive feedback from the visitors, we would like to set up a new tradition and start organizing the winter tower tour every winter.
Apart from this new event, we also continued the tradition of helping our colleagues at the Hrušov castle. Like every winter, a small group of volunteers from our NGO Katarinka visits Hrušov – a castle ruin located near Zlate Moravce - and helps the local volunteers with the necessary winter maintenance work on the castle grounds. Due to the extraordinary warm weather, in some areas around the castle there was more water than snow – so instead of snow shovels our volunteers had to use water buckets
So we are slowly, but surely approaching the official opening date of the new season – 28th April 2019. This year marks an extraordinary anniversary, as we are celebrating 25 years of existence of our voluntary project at Katarinka – and therefore there are many activities and additional events planned in order to commemorate this special milestone – so there is plenty to happen this year!

Mar 14, 2019

No prejudices - no fear

First part of the year was strongly focused on the Scratch education for the girls in primary schools. We have started to work with this target group last year and the results are so nice! There are no biases in their heads, no prejudices, no fear. We can motivate them, learn them new skills and build a new generation of Slovak tech girls.

As a final of all Scratch workshop, the competition ScratchMatch is organized.

Girls from this target group also participated at Girls Game Lab, focused on Java Script coding. Lab happened for 15 weeks consecutively and at the end, girls created their own games or postcards. The final event happened together with their parents, so we can discuss with them about the necessity to support their daughter in their IT steps.

High school girls follow their Coding Clubs. New topics arrived in the curricula, 2D/3D printing, graphic design, AI in architecture. We can enlarge Coding Clubs from Bratislava to other towns, as Trencin, Martin and Kosice. The strong community of these girls is rising.

For mature women, we follow our Academies. Starting with testing, data analytics, the next ready are in machine learning, automotive testing and python. Wow. What a wonderful woman we could put together!!

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