A Czech Falun Gong practitioner was recently given a prestigious philanthropic award.
Ondrej Horecky received the 2012 Via Bona Award in the category, "Unselfish Heart of the Year" on September 13 for his work in Tanzania and the Czech Republic.
The Via Bona prize is awarded annually to individuals and companies for their philanthropic work. The "Unselfish Heart of the Year" award is described by the Via Foundation – the organizer of the event – as a prize, "Aiming at anyone working for the benefit of specific charitable projects or NGOs in different ways, be it a financial donation, human help or professional advice."
Ondrej first left for Africa in 2004 as a volunteer and has been returning ever since. He set up an NGO called Bezmamy (Without Mum) in 2006 which helps orphans in Tanzania. Many children's parents have died of HIV/AIDS. His NGO has built a nursery school, a mission house and a small orphanage in the small village of Mahango in southwestern Tanzania and is currently working on a large orphanage center capable of accommodating about 70 kids.
In 2007 Ondrej came up with an idea of how to involve Czech children and started the School for School project, where Czech schools come up with their own activities to raise money for their partner schools in Tanzania, and they themselves vote on what to buy for their African friends. Ondrej then goes to Africa, realizes the project while presenting the results back in his country through pictures and video. The schoolchildren and teachers can therefore see what was done and concentrate on raising money for the next project. Pupils usually choose things like new desks, classroom repairs, textbooks, soccer nets, etc.
What is special about Ondrej is that he not only does all this as a volunteer, he also pays his expenses himself so that the money raised goes directly towards the project. That was one of the reasons why a teacher from a partner school nominated him for the award.
"Through his modesty, passion and empathy he can inspire both children and grown-ups. He expects no thanks and no rewards. In his young age he managed to build an organization that helps, saves and represents our country in distant Tanzania being a personal example for a number of children and young people. He teaches children a personal involvement that benefits the needy and shows them (children) the way for their future lives where not everything is based on the accumulation of material possessions," wrote Jitka Hudeckova, vice principal of the No. 1 Primary School Uhersky Brod.
Ondrej started practising Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) in 2006. "Falun Dafa has completely changed my perspective on life. I try to be a better person in family, at work, as well as in society. The principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance help me wherever I am and give me spiritual guidance throughout my life. Everything I do, I try to do it in a righteous and honest way, being stricter with myself and more tolerant of others," says Ondrej.
In recent years Ondrej passed the management of the NGO onto his successors and is now just an ordinary member of the organization. Although he keeps returning to Africa, he is happy to find devoted individuals who will follow in his steps. Ondrej now wants to spend more time raising awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong in China while trying to stop it. "When the Chinese Communist Party decided to ban and destroy Falun Gong in 1999, it chose to persecute every 12th citizen of its own country and at the same time destroy the moral elite of the nation. By defying values of its own culture, the Party ruins the morality of the whole nation. The problem is its coercive politics and values negatively affect the rest of the world as well. A government that strives only for power and wealth without respecting humanity and goodness can gain short-term benefits but will collapse eventually," says Ondrej.
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