At first, we helped Markéta. Now, she helps us.Published: May 26, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
“It’s always been about people – whether they think are thinking about their children’s future, or if they are trying to build something, or they are just trying to stay in the same lodging house," says Markéta Nistorová, who started out as a client at People in Need and has since joined our team as a Social Service Worker for families with children. “When I visited lodging houses in Kladno as part of my training, many people recognized me. A woman with whom I had spent three weeks in a different lodging house before – when I was just having a really hard time and had run away told me not to cry and that it was all part of life and that I must get used to not living like other people - recognized me. When she saw me then, after several years, her eyes showed surprise and delight when she saw that I had not given up. Today, I really want to show people that change is possible. That they don't need to give up and resign themselves to the current situation if they are unhappy,” the mother of four says resolutely.
Markéta's first encounter with People in Need came when she was about ten years old. PIN workers and volunteers were present around the town of Kladno, where she was living. As she got older, she took her cues from them and started helping out at the local parish and helped organise activities for children who met at the church from the nearby apartment buildings. “I became friends with a deeply religious family and helped them organise trips to the forest and various other games,” she says about her seven years of volunteering.
Saddled with debt after ending things with her children’s father
Markéta has always enjoyed the arts. She enjoyed drawing a lot and used to want to be a fashion designer. She even studied dressmaking at a vocational school and had later planned to study fashion design in Prague. However, her plans changed when she fell pregnant. “I met my boyfriend, got pregnant, and became a mum before I turned nineteen.”
She never finished school. Růženka (who is 16 today) was followed by Martin (13) and then Milan (9), who has various disabilities. “Little Milan has seeing, hearing, and short-term memory difficulties, but we manage somehow. I did not choose their dad well. He came from an environment where they all drank too much alcohol, which I did not consider bad at first. They seemed very cheerful and looked happy,” she says, while simultaneously hinting at what later influenced the end of their eleven-year partnership the children being entrusted in her care alone.
After the split, she was still not completely free. What remained were their joint debts from various loans that they had taken out earlier for the sake of their family. These loans were all under her name. This brought her back to People in Need. She turned to the debt advisory centre in an effort to resolve her difficult financial situation.
Taking care of her family, going to school, doing an internship, studying in the evenings and spending her weekends doing various part-time jobs
After what was initially a tumultuous period, Markéta is now living happily. With her new partner, Zdeněk, they have even added another member to their family, a young girl also named Markétka. The mother of four has decided that now is the time to finally complete her schooling. “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. During my most recent maternity leave, the employment office offered me a mundane, temporary job in manufacturing. I couldn’t imagine doing it long-term, so I asked about a profession that would actually help people. But since I’d only completed primary school education, I was discouraged from pursuing anything like that,” she described. Nevertheless, she enrolled in a training course to become a social service worker.
She believes that it was because she was able to cope with past problems that she was able to move forward and can now help others today. “My children laugh at me and say that I am too big to go to school, but I appreciate it much more today then I did then. Having a primary school education is not enough,” she reflects and tries to pass down her perception about the importance of education to her children. She had to work hard on herself. It was not easy to combine caring for four children, going to school during the week, studying during the evenings, and temporary jobs over the weekends.
A dream come true with People in Need
It was Markéta’s study that brought her to People in Need once again, where she learned that the Central Bohemia branch of the organisation was looking for a Social Service Worker for parents with children. This was the type of service that helped her family in their toughest times. “It was touching, how she began to cry with joy. Her dream had come true. It is not easy to get a job with our Social Service Department. We have specific requirements, and in most cases, a university education is needed. We ended up hiring Markéta because she had such strong motivation, and was well-versed in the social work systems. When it came to meeting our clients at the Club of Mothers or working with teenage girls, she is super charismatic, emphatic, and has very good ideas. Moreover, she has an innate understanding of the life situations of our clients, probably due to her own personal experiences. She complements our team perfectly,” says Regional Social Services Coordinator Jana Odvárková.
"When I was helping others as a little girl, I didn't think that I could do this as a job one day. Today, I look forward to the variety of work, and the people in the office who take everyone on no matter what their backgrounds are. I always feel at home among them when I walk in," Markéta concludes.