Prompted by a call by the Rector Martin Bareš, a volunteer network was established at Masaryk University just one week after in-person classes were cancelled and is now answering requests for help from organisations and individuals. Donations have been received through munipomaha.cz/en since 19 March to help fund related costs and purchases. The campaign raised over 36,000 euros, or a million crowns, in its first three days and the money keeps coming in.
“The announcement of a global pandemic has been met with a wave of sympathy from our students, employees and all good people, whether they are helping as volunteers or through donations. The outpouring of solidarity is incredible and gives hope that together we will come through this emergency. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all who help,” says MU Rector Martin Bareš.
The donations will be used to purchase essential protective equipment, particularly hand sanitisers. “We are grateful that we can now reimburse our volunteers, who did not hesitate to contribute both their time and money by purchasing fuel to transport medical students volunteering outside of Brno. The donations will also cover the costs incurred by the coordinating team, such as phone charges, and snacks for the volunteers who often work 12 or more hours a day,” adds Jiří Uher, the director of the volunteer centre.
Over 2,800 people, mostly students at Masaryk University and other universities, have already registered in the volunteer database. During its first week, the volunteer centre was contacted by 266 individuals and 52 institutions. Most of the requests have already been answered or are being processed. “It is now important to make sure that the offer of our volunteer services gets to as many people in need as possible. We have been distributing leaflets and posters all over Brno and would like to ask everyone to spread the word,” says Uher.
Among the first to respond to the plea for help were students at the Faculty of Education, who now run a childcare centre for employees of the University Hospital Brno at the Bohunice campus. Fifth and sixth-year med students are assisting in the specimen collection tents of the University Hospital Brno and in the hospital itself. Experts from among the university employees are helping to analyse the samples, using some of the university equipment. Other students are helping to man the Regional Public Health Department hotlines and the emergency line 112, which are overwhelmed with calls. Counselling support is also being offered by psychologists and lawyers.