Interview with Petr Sýkora, one of the founders of Dobry Andel in Czech Republic
Assistance is needed on a long-term basis
In 2011, Petr Sýkora and Jan Černý decided to establish the GOOD ANGEL endowment fund because they realized that in addition to personal and physical pain, an oncological or other illness brings about serious financial worries. As a result, one of the parents has to give up work to take care of the small patient and his/her siblings. Assistance is needed on a long-term basis.
|Why did you decide to donate money from the sale of Papirius to the establishment of Dobrý Andӗl rather than spending on yourself?|
We were fortunate to sell PAPIRIUS in 2006 – at the peak of the economic cycle. Both my business partner Jan Černý and I knew well enough that money can't buy happiness. Or, perhaps I should say, if it can, it lasts only a very, very short time. We have what we need – or I should say more than we need.
Wealth is tricky. When enough is enough? I thinking having enough is a state of mind.
Both Jan and I were thinking about our next entrepreneurial venture. We were evaluating several options and then – suddenly – an idea of starting GOOD ANGEL came along…
Why do you think that the Czech Republic needs a charity like Dobrý Andӗl?
Terry Tempest Williams said: “An individual doesn’t get cancer, a family does.” If a child gets cancer one of the parents (usually a mother) stops working. The income of the family goes down and costs go up. After a few months even a middle class family starts to live on a very, very tight budget. And if you add to this that about a half of families in our country are led by a single parent you realize that these people live in a very, very difficult situation. It is a lot of psychological stress for parents, logistics gets very difficult (as mothers usually stay for months and months in the hospital with the ill child), new bills come up…
How does Dobrý Andӗl differ from other charities in the Czech Republic that may offer a similar service?
Other charities do different things. What GOOD ANGEL does is that it collects small donations from individuals – whom we call Good angels (hence the name) who contribute every month. Then on a first working day of the following month all the money collected the month before gets evenly distributed amongst the families who applied for help. All the donations – to the last cent – go all the way through to the families. This is enabled by the fact that Jan and I fund the operational / marketing costs of the organization. More than that, Good angels can always have a look precisely when we got the money and which families they have been helping. So there is this 100% flow through plus total transparency.
How many families have been helped by Dobrý Andӗl since it was established?
About 1600. About a year ago, Good angels voted to include a few other long term child diseases to be supported. These include Cystic Fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and more acute types of dystrophy, Epidermolysis Bullosa (Butterfly Children), Crohn’s Disease and other.
What is the most inspiring story you have heard from a family that has received money from Dobrý Andӗl?
Ohoh, there are so many. I often think of Alenka from northern Bohemia and her family. She is such a beautiful girl, always painting or playing with ladybugs. Now she got through it all. Her family does not need financial support any more and became Good angel instead. Alenka featured in one of our commercials – you can see her on YouTube. Her parents are wonderful, renovated the whole flat after she got diagnosed to make it safe and very clean for her. They home-schooled her and took her little brother out of kindergarten to reduce the risk of introducing a child specific infectious disease to their home.
Who are some of Dobrý Andӗl’s high-profile donators?
There are no high profile donators – or Good angels if you will. One of our core values is RESPECT. In our context it means that we value Good angels regardless the amount they contribute. Each of us has different means. On the other hand just recently a few wonderful people and companies decided to finance the organizational costs of GOOD ANGEL (alongside Jan and I) to enable to keep our promise “to the last cent” for individual contributors for the long term. Jan and I committed CZK 25mil and one day this money runs out. The list of our partners includes Ondrej Fryc, SIKO Koupelny, Sanji Suir (ZATIŠÍ Group), Martin Kúšik, Štěpán Lacina from GLISCO, Milan Vašina and others.
How would you like to see Dobrý Andӗl grow and progress in the future?
The purpose of GOOD ANGEL is to help every family with kids where either a child or one of the parents gets cancer or where a child suffers from a serious long-term life threatening disease and who got into financial difficulties because of the illness. According to our estimates there are about 2500 families affected in the Czech Republic. We are about half-way through.
What message would you like to give people and companies to encourage them to donate to Dobrý Andӗl?
Giving to others is a very intimate experience. We often tend to judge our civilization's progress by GDP growth, smart- phone penetration and other measures. I think the best way how judge a maturity of any given society is to look whether and how it takes care of its weakest members, seniors, animals and environment. Choose whichever organization is close to your heart or start your own. And last but not least – I never check on my friends whether they decided to be Good angels. It is up to them. Therefore it is up to you. Good luck.
For more information please visit: Dobrý Anděl
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