Dája Kabátová

Letohrádek Vendula
Year founded: 
Czech Republic

Letohrádek Vendula serves the needs of handicapped people in the Czech Republic by providing social services and work opportunities.

Focus: Disabilities, Education, Enterprise Development, Health, Labour Conditions, Unemployment
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Geographic Area of Impact: Czech Republic
Current Number of Beneficiaries: 50 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 526,000 (2010)
Percentage of Earned Revenue: 30%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Czech Republic, 2008

Most social services for handicapped people in the Czech Republic consist of life-long placement in state institutions, which often lack support programmes that integrate people into society. One alternative is homecare, requiring a family member to remain at home to care for their handicapped relative. Finding support services when a person can no longer be cared for is very challenging. Letohrádek Vendula was created to offer additional and alternative services that address the needs of handicapped people and their families in the Czech Republic.

Innovation and Activities
Letohrádek Vendula is a non-governmental, not-for profit organization, which operates a crisis centre providing care, accommodation and workshop employment to individuals with severe handicaps. Its crafts manufacturing workshop employs people with mental, physical or combined handicaps, who engage in traditional craftwork such as weaving, candle making and handmade paper production. The products are then sold through a wide network of merchants, including Baumax home improvement stores.

Other services provided by Letohrádek Vendula include a daily and weekly assisted living facility, legal consulting services and a crisis centre offering accommodation and physiotherapy. The crisis centre provides temporary accommodations, consultation and personal assistance to handicapped people in need, particularly in the event of their primary caregiver’s death.

Letohrádek Vendula accepts all people regardless of their diagnosis, which represents an entirely different approach from state-run institutions that sort people according to their disabilities. It also provides training for government professionals in an effort to change the state institutional approach from simply passive caretaking of people with disabilities, to the active participation by those needy individuals.

Letohrádek Vendula represents a unique community of people who are capable of working well together. For example, a physically healthy yet mentally handicapped person might be able to work in collaboration with another wheelchair-bound but mentally healthy individual, resulting in the cooperative production of a sellable product.

The Entrepreneur
Drahoslava (Dája) Kabátová graduated from Charles University in Prague with a degree in Special Education. Until 1994 she spent 10 years working as a nurse at the Jedlicka Institute in Prague, managing a crafts workshop. Kabátová is an Ashoka Fellow, and has served on several evaluation boards for social projects sponsored by the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. She has also developed many projects with grants from the Czech government and the European Union.