Historical Milestones

Published: Jul 3, 2019 Reading time: 21 minutes
Historical Milestones
© Foto: PIN

People in Need was established in 1992 by a group of journalists who were no longer satisfied with just bringing back information to the Czech Republic. Instead, they began sending out aid. It gradually became established as a professional humanitarian organization striving to provide aid in troubled regions and support human rights around the world.


On the impulse of Jaromír Štětina, a group of journalists from the Lidové noviny daily formed a humanitarian team called ‘Epicentrum’. They organized a fundraiser to help alleviate the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. The aid was transported to Karabakh’s hospitals, while eyewitness testimonies about the war were brought back by volunteers. By years end, the relief program became part of the Lidové noviny Foundation, which initiated the Week for Bosnia campaign sending the first humanitarian supplies to the war-ravaged country.


SOS Sarajevo Fundraising Campaign: The LN Foundation launched the biggest humanitarian operation in the post-communist countries to help the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina with more than 30 million Czech crowns that were fundraised. Aid convoys loaded with food and hygiene kits were sent to the besieged capital, Sarajevo, and the municipalities of Tuzla, Gorazde, and Maglaj. Additionally, three air shipments with medical supplies were sent to Sarajevo hospitals. Between 1995 and 1998, approximately 150 million Czech crowns worth of aid was provided to Bosnia. In 1994 the foundation became an official partner of UNICEF for aid program in former Yugoslavia.

Food for Somalia: In partnership with the Catholic Charity, the LN foundation prepared a shipment of medicaments and food for the people of Somalia. 

Famine in Mongolia: With the assistance of the ADRA NGO, a humanitarian convoy, carrying 50 tons of clothes and food, was sent to Mongolia.


The LN Foundation merged with Czech Television and thus a foundation called ‘People in Need under the Auspices of Czech Television was established. 

Aid for Chechnya: The SOS Chechnya fundraising campaign was launched for the first time. A humanitarian convoy arrived in fifty Chechen and Ingush health centers. The foundation established a permanent mission in the country.

The Czechs in Kazakhstan: People in Need established a counseling center for compatriots which, together with the state administration, organized a repatriation program, “Homecoming”, for those compatriots in Kazakhstan. Throughout the duration of this program (1994 – 2000), 200 compatriot families from Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan were provided with housing and jobs in the Czech Republic.

Homo Homini: In 1994 the People in Need Organization bestowed the first Homo Homini Award acknowledging a significant personal contribution to defending human rights and promoting democratic values. Until today, the award, which is announced on an annual basis, has been given to: Sergei Kovalev (Russia), Szeto Wah (Hong Kong), Ibrahim Rugova (Kosovo), Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (Cuba), Min Ko Naing (Burma/Myanmar), Zackie Achmat (South Africa) a Thich Huyen Quang, Thich Quang Do a Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly (all Vietnam), Natasha Kandić (Serbia), Gheorghe Briceag (Moldova) and Ales Bialiatski (Belarus).


Month of Bosnia and Herzegovina: A major festival of Bosnian culture in the Czech Republic was established to present the spiritual and artistic protest of Bosnian artists and intellectuals against the war. The festival included art and photography exhibitions, classical and rock concerts, workshops, exhibitions of books and other kinds of print, as well as numerous meetings of Czech and Bosnian artists and intellectuals. Meanwhile, People in Need sent three large airplanes and truckloads of supplies to Sarajevo and other impacted cities in Bosnia.

Aid for Romania: People in Need implemented a Czech government project worth 30 million Czech crowns to help four thousand Czech compatriots in the Romanian Banat. The first phase of the project focused on the building and reconstruction of local roads, establishment of network infrastructure and reconstruction of schools. Since 2000, priority has been placed on building enterprise and creating job opportunities.   


The Post-war Reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina: In the aftermath of the war, People in Need focused on the reconstruction of public buildings (hospitals, schools, cultural and sports centers) in the municipalities of Maglaj, Sanski Most and Lusci Palanka. Thanks to the rehabilitation of Sanski Most, approximately 90 Bosnian refugees were able to return home from the Czech Republic. The foundation then focused on psychosocial assistance for any person suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

We are also co-organized a demonstration against the Chinese policies in Tibet.


Orphanages and Hospitals in Albania: Humanitarian aid totaling 3 million crowns from the Czech government was sent to hospitals and orphanages in Albania; a year later a fully-equipped ambulance for pediatric surgery was delivered as well.  

SOS Moravia and Silesia: Immediately after Moravia was hit with a devastating flood, People in Need initiated a fundraising campaign which, together with individual grants, raised 22 million Czech crowns. The foundation made sure food, drinking water, hygiene supplies as well as sources of light was maintained. Moreover, they coordinated the transport and activities of volunteer teams who, after the water had receded, started cleaning wells, drying houses and killing mold. The foundation also took part in assisting the flooded Romani settlements in eastern Slovakia in 1999.

Support for the Cuban Opposition: In 1997, People in Need began supporting the democratic Cuban opposition. In Cuba, the foundation’s fellow workers distributed medicine, technology, and cash grants to those in need, as well as families of prisoners and opponents of the totalitarian regime. 

People in Need supported democratic reform in Myanmar. 


Centre in Belarus: The Belarusian Center of People in Need began an attempt to provide accurate and unbiased information about Lukashenko’s dictatorship and monitor the violation of human rights. The center organized professional workshops, lectures and also invited the Belarusian human rights defenders along with the opposition politicians. This activity was not suspended even due to the arrest and subsequent deportation of one of the workers, who led the People in Need office in Minsk.  

SOS Kosovo: Profits from the public fundraising campaign for the support of humanitarian activities allowed the People in Need Foundation to send the first humanitarian convoy to Kosovo and provide aid directly in the province. Until 2001, 69 million Czech crowns had been raised.

Tajikistan: The organization sent medicine and hygiene kits worth 2.5 million Czech crowns to the areas struck by floods with funds from the Czech government.


Due to the changes in its legal statute, the foundation transforms into a non-profit organization, thus the new official name is now People in Need Organization under the Auspices of Czech Television, o. p. s.  

Kosovo Rehabilitation: The organization implemented a massive reconstruction program to repair rooves and houses destroyed in the region. Temporary shelters were opened for homeless families displaced by the destruction. Since 2001, it has maintained the focus of reconstruction as well as building schools. Additionally, they support the Kosovo health-care system, local non-governmental organizations, and a journalism school.

One World: The One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, having been held annually since 1999, became the first festival of its kind in Central Europe.One World Film Festival in the Czech Republic    


Infoservis: People in Need’s informational project aimed to increase the Czech public’s awareness of situations in troubled regions, violations of human rights and current global problems. Infoservis publishes special supplements within respected media such as the Lidové noviny and Mladá fronta Dnes dailies or Respekt magazine; moreover, it runs website www.infoservis.net

SOS Chechnya: In 1999, during the first phase of the fundraising campaign, People in Need raised more than 20 million Czech crowns. At the same time, the organization was the first to deliver a large food supply to Chechnya in the midst of intense violence. Subsequently, the organization became the largest executive partner for the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ensuring the monthly supply of essential food and hygiene products for two-thirds of the worst-affected population of Grozny (45,000 people). In 2001, approximately 6,000 tons of essential food items and hygiene supplies were distributed. Furthermore, rehabilitation programs provided housing for families in the most devastated parts of Chechnya. Finally, People in Need led the reconstruction of schools and hospitals while providing aid to Chechen refugees in the camps in Ingushetia.


The Variant Educational Programme: The primary focus of the Variants was to improve the relationship between minorities and the Czech majority. In the first part of the project, a manual for intercultural education at primary and secondary schools was created and media campaign against racism and intolerance ‘Be Kind to Your Local Nazi’ was mounted. In the second part, the project focused on the gradual introduction of intercultural education to all levels of the Czech educational system. 

Burmese Refugees: People in Need implemented educational and health-care projects in Burmese refugee camps in Thailand.


One World in Schools: The One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival evolved into an educational program named ‘One World in Schools’ offering documentary films and additional teaching materials on current global issues and problems of recent history. After many years of experience, the program shows audio-visual aids have an enormous potential to address students of primary and secondary schools. The materials are used by pedagogues from more than 2,900 primary and secondary schools in the Czech Republic as a number of these activities are backed by sociological studies and surveys. The program has also been conducted abroad for a number of years. Lastly, the program provides training courses for future and current teachers in a long-term perspective.

SOS Floods: The so-far biggest humanitarian operation of the organization was launched in August 2002 after a major part of Bohemia was hit by devastating floods. The SOS Floods fundraising campaign, which was initiated immediately, raised 269 million Czech crowns. More than half of those resources were used to help the afflicted households while the rest was used for public interest projects such as the reconstructions of schools, hospitals, municipal housing and a number of smaller projects.

SOS Afghanistan:: In 2001, People in Need used government funds to send relief supplies of basic medical consumables to the anti-Taliban alliance territory. In 2002, a permanent mission was established in the country. Its task was to ensure food distribution and conduct a homecoming program for refugees. Today, the priority is to repair roads, reconstruct schools and health centers, as well as support micro-businesses. 


Ethiopia:  In 2003, People in Need launched the first development projects solely aimed at eradicating long-term poverty while developing certain areas. In Namibia, one of the three countries most affected by HIV/AIDS, operations in the Karas Region in the south of the country are trying to stabilize the local community while acting as social workers and promoting self-sufficiency through manufacturing and trading traditional products. The project in Ethiopia is focused mainly on building a primary school and training teachers as well as constructing a borehole, ensuring the supply of good-quality drinking water for the 12,000 inhabitants in Alaba District in the south of the country.

SOS Iraq: In May 2003, a permanent humanitarian mission in Iraq was established. The main activity of the organization focused on the Maysan Governorate belonging to one of the most devastated areas in the country. During the Iran-Iraq War, the region was the focal point of several front-fighting waves and moreover, the dictatorial regime deliberately oppressed the local Shia population. At first, People in Need focused on the restoration of health care and educational system – especially through the reconstruction of schools and health centers. In April 2004, it was necessary to evacuate the Czech mission workers to Amman in Jordan, where they continued to manage the activities of Iraqi workers who operate in the city of Al-Amara in the south of Iraq. Since 2004, the focus of projects has gradually shifted towards the support for Iraqi non-governmental organizations and the construction of civil society, especially through a wide range of training courses. The overall volume of implemented aid is worth more than 115 million Czech crowns.

Club of Friends: People in Need set up this organization to collect donations of emergency relief within the Czech Republic. 


SOS Iran: At the turn of 2003/2004, People in Need started a public fundraising campaign, SOS Iran, to help those affected by the massive earthquake in southeast Iran. More than 2 million Czech crowns were collected. In total, People in Need undertook aid projects in Iran worth approximately 4 million CZK. The organization built three schools, a clinic, and several sports and leisure centers for the youth in Bam. Other completed projects include, for example, a program to support families headed by widows. 

Let’s Build a School in Africa: The first year of a public fundraising campaign for the construction of a primary school in south Ethiopia was held from October 5th to October 7th. During this campaign, organized by People in Need and Junák (Association of Scouts and Guides of the Czech Republic), approximately 1,100,000 Czech crowns was collected. The remaining 310,000 CZK necessary for the project came from the financial reward Šimon Pánek, one of the founders of People in Need, received when presented the Quadriga Award in October in Berlin. The school was finished in 2005. The educational facility covered all areas of the primary curriculum from the first to fourth year. The school estate has 10 acres, where the students can also grow agricultural products which are subsequently sold to purchase school supplies. 


SOS Sri Lanka: At the end of 2004, a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated Southeast Asia. Over 35 thousand people perished and more than half a million lost their homes. Almost immediately after the disaster, People in Need launched a public fundraising campaign designated to assist Sri Lanka, one of the most affected areas. The fundraiser aroused unprecedented public interest and thus raised more than 130 million crowns. These funds were used directly for emergency relief programs (purchase of medicines or food) as well as long-term rehabilitation programs such as the construction of

Stories of Injustice: Since November 2005, People in Need has regularly hosted Stories of Injustice – Month of Film in Schools. For the duration of each event, documentary films are shown in primary and secondary schools. The films depict the post-war period of Czech history and the crimes of the communist regime. Following the screening, students are given the opportunity to discuss with contemporary witnesses, who themselves were the victims of communist injustice. This project has become a cultural and educational event in which 700 schools regularly participate.

In three cities within the Czech Republic – Ústí nad Labem, Plzeň and Bílina, a coalition of partner organizations led by People in Need started to implement a project aimed at increasing the chances of disadvantaged people (inhabitants of socially deprived areas, the Roma people and foreigners living in the Czech Republic) to obtain decent education, adequate housing and find success on the labour market. We open our first pre-school club in Bílina.


SOS Lebanon: People in Need began relief operations in Lebanon immediately following the eruption of armed conflict within the country. To help the war victims, People in Need launched the SOS Lebanon fundraising campaign. It funded the distribution of food and hygiene supplies and later focused on infrastructure rehabilitation as well as the delivery of psychosocial assistance to the people affected by the conflict. 

Media Literacy: One World in Schools became involved in promoting media literacy as it is an essential skill for young people living in a world permeated by media reporting. Therefore, the “In the Frame” project was launched, aimed at introducing this topic into the curriculum while utilizing engaging audio-visual materials accompanied by relevant information. The project aimed to develop students critical thinking to judge different types of media messages and possibly exploit the media potential.


Fundraising Campaigns: In August, People in Need launched the SOS India campaign to provide aid to the Indian Bihar hit by the flood. Of the 11 million affected, 2 million people had to leave their homes. In that same month, People in Need held a fundraising campaign to provide those devasted by the massive fire disaster in Greece.

Products from Namibia: In the spring, there was the first opportunity to buy products made by a sheltered craft workshop in Namibia from the first established shop in the Kotva department store. The workshop is part of a community center in Keetmanshoop that offers psychosocial assistance to those suffering from AIDS or tuberculosis. 


In 2008, People in Need opened new foreign missions and launched two ‘SOS’ public fundraising campaigns. More than 100,000 people attended the 10th One World IFF. The scope of Social Integration Programs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia continued to expand.

The Democratic Republic of Congo: The film “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo”, introduced at the One World IFF, caught audience attention by documenting the reality woman in the east Congo face with violent acts of rape and exclusion from society. Resources from the Club of Friends and individual donors radically improved the lives of women and children in the refugee center in South Kivu province. 

SOS Burma: The destructive Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in May 2008. People in Need successfully provided direct aid to tens of thousands of victims despite actions of the military junta to prevent humanitarian organizations from entering affected areas in the Irrawaddy Delta. The rehabilitation of the devastated areas and support for small businesses continued even under difficult conditions.

SOS Georgia: In August 2008, the Russian Army occupied South Ossetia. In response, People in Need’s Georgia mission began providing material and psychosocial assistance to the thousands of refugees affected. Then, the mission expanded to give aid to other refugee communities in Georgia of whom had faced appalling conditions for about twenty years. 


SOS Floods: Heavy torrential rains and subsequent floods that hit the Czech Republic at the beginning of summer devastated dozens of villages especially in the north of Moravia. Thanks to an unusual degree of solidarity among the Czech society, approximately 70 million crowns were collected in a short time. This money was used to support the most affected families, and, to a lesser extent, repair destroyed municipal property.

SOS Sumatra: In November, the island of Sumatra in Indonesia was struck by a massive earthquake. PIN used the resources from a public SOS fundraising campaign to finance food distribution, small equipment and construction of several hundred new houses.

Real Gift: In 2009 People in Need created an online charity shop (www.skutecnydarek.cz) where donors could purchase items related to the real life needs of the people aided by PIN. The price of the item corresponds with the real financial aid received on the spot whether that was a goat, sewing machine or blackboard. Sales proceeds from gift certificates currently go to the Real Aid project fundraising campaign.


Earthquake in Haiti: Immediately after the January earthquake in Haiti, People in Need started providing humanitarian aid, later shifting focus to primarily the needs of schools in the region.

SOS Pakistan: The actions taken within SOS Pakistan helped respond to the aftermath of the historically destructive floods placing a focus on swift rehabilitation.

Social Integration Programmes: The SIPs work domestically to enhance the education system for marginalized groups improving their chances for a better life. For example, PIN introduced a pilot project of pre-school preparation courses and Mother’s Clubs. The nearly 200 social workers and coordinators in the SIPs are the largest providers of assistance for these individuals, who already suffer from social exclusion and isolation.

Students’ Elections: Students’ elections were held in April; 135 secondary schools took part and 20,233 valid ballots were cast.


SOS Somalia: The SOS Somalia fundraising campaign was mounted in July to help refugees facing devastating famine in the Horn of Africa. Thanks to the public appeal, PIN responded quickly to the unfolding crisis and, as the only organization in the region, provided comprehensive aid ranging from registration of refugees to the provision of food, shelter, education and medical care.

Egypt and Libya: During the Arab spring, People in Need began working in Egypt and Libya. Czech experts visited Egypt three times to discuss various transformation aspects and training sessions were provided for activists from different regions. Aside from humanitarian aid in Libya, we organized lectures for new non-governmental organizations.

Real Gift: During the year, People in Need distributed 250,000 tree seedlings, 2,763 chickens, 522 goats, 86 sheep, 40 donkeys with a cart, 20 sewing machines and 742 packages of baby provided by Czech donors through the e-shop SkutecnyDarek.cz.


SOS Syria: In April, People in Need initiated the SOS Syria fundraising campaign. One million Czech crowns were released from the People in Need Club of Friends relief fund to support the underground network of Syrian medical teams - the Doctors Coordinate of Damascus. Another one million crowns were channeled to help the Syrian refugees in Jordan.

One World: The One World IFF marked record attendance of 110,372 visitors in Prague as well as in other Czech regions where 106 films from 44 countries were featured.


SOS Philippines: By the end of 2013, People in Need sent teams to the islands of the Philippines devasted by the recent Typhoon. There, PIN established a new humanitarian mission.

Cambodia: In regions of Cambodia where we supported maternity care the maternal mortality rate was lowered by 75%. 

SOS Floods: The 50th-year flood affected the Czech Republic in June. Afterward, People in Need distributed aid worth more than 70 million Czech crown. Workers visited over 1,800 flooded homes. 1,343 of them were individually visited, often repeatedly, discussing personal situations and agreeing on an elaborate plan of action. Decision-making committees gave financial contributions according to specific recovery plans for every ruined home.

Help in abroad: In 2013, People in Need worked in 20 countries with permanent missions in 15 of them. The activities of the People in Need abroad team involved over 600 employees.


Syria: Three People in Need employees perished along with other civilians in a rocket attack on a residential neighborhood of Aleppo. People in Need in Syria has become one of the few organizations operating within war zones. Syrians have become the largest recipient of our humanitarian aid, especially with food.

UkraineSince the beginning of the year we have human rights projects in Ukraine extended for humanitarian aid. Over the year, People in need expanded the Human Rights projects in Ukraine to also provide humanitarian aid. Aid was provided first for civilians injured in the conflict as well as families of those killed at the Kiev Majdan. Later, aid was given to people affected by the war in the east. We focused mainly on assisting refugees, repairing damaged houses and the distribution of food and medical supplies.


SOS Nepal: Nepal has hit the most devastating earthquake in the last 80 years and People in Need quickly sent aid supporting over 100,000 people. We supported 14,320 households in the repair of their makeshift homes, 10,623 households received household equipment such as mattresses, blankets and solar lamps, 48,993 people helped with the insulation of their homes before winter, 5,490 households received a financial contribution to cover the basic needs, 1,648 students of the last years of high school received books and school supplies to prepare for high school leaving, 179 families who lost their livelihoods received two goats as "Real Gift", 54 tents serve as schools, infirmary, administrative centers or community centers

Food for Syria: In 2015, the conflict in Syria was worsening, nearly 200,000 people have died, more than 7 million have been internally displaced, and over 12 million need immediate help. In the north, People in Need is the most invaluable humanitarian providers providing food for 175,000 people each month.

Prague Civil Society Center: Together with partners from Poland and Norway, we established the Prague Civil Society Center, which supports open society, the rule of law and citizens' initiatives in the Eastern Partnership countries, Russia and Central Asia.


Syria: As tensions in Syria continue to increase, in 2016, a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Syrian province of Idlib was bombed. The camp was established in January 2016 and hosted thousands of displaced people who had fled southern and northern rural Aleppo. According to local sources, the attack left dozens dead and wounded, among them women and children. The millions of people who have been internally displaced by the conflict remain trapped in the country due to the closure of the borders. People in Need stays committed to helping refugees and in 2016, was providing aid to 180 thousand people a month.

Donetsk: In 2016, People in Need could no longer provide help in Donetsk. Local authorities made the decision without stating a reason for the immediate closure of our office and seal the warehouse for humanitarian aid.

Czech Debt Crisis: Executors in the Czech Republic led 4.6 million proceedings against almost a million debtors. With a growing number of people who can never get out of debt, together with Transparency International, People in Need pushed Members to approve the territoriality or jurisdiction of bailiffs, which would improve the debt recovery situation.


25 Year Anniversary: People in Need celebrated 25 years in 2017 by launching of a commemorative book, THE PEOPLE 25 - A Quarter of the People in Need.

Mosul: Mosul, the last bastion of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq, was faced with conflict in 2017 resulting in a mass exodus. People in need supplied necessities to people fleeing combat, such as food, blankets, and shelter. Up to half a million people were expected to flee before the fight.

Autor: People in Need