Komunitné Centrum (literally Community Centre) is an organization that serves as host to several social programs housed in one building. With their municipal funding completely cut over a year ago, the two directors have faced many challenges to keep the facility running. Located in Klokočina, Nitra's most populous sector, this facility is surrounded by apartment blocks full of children and young families. The actual building and grounds have fallen into disrepair as the majority of this former school building is completely abandoned and has become a place where drug users, homeless people and kids who are bored and want to smash stuff come to spend time. Matthew was given his own private tour of the building by two local boys, Adam and Peter (maybe 8 years old), over broken windows and bottles, around needles, through the part they set on fire, and stealthily through the part where the homeless people live. The surrounding yard and play spaces were overgrown with thistles and tall grass, not to mention the garbage, glass and needles. With Mozaika looking at buying property in Klokočina, it seemed like the perfect place to start building a relationship.
We did a little pre-work before the teams arrived to make sure there was some usable outdoor space before the kids camp began on Monday. The teams then set to work, everyday from Monday to Friday, making this space a usable one. There was garbage, glass and needle clean-up. Followed by weeding (which turned into only getting the ones with spikes once we realized how many weeds there actually were). There was a lot of weed whacking (until both weed whackers died...and then we kicked it old school with 2 sheaths) to get the grass down to a manageable height. It then took at least two runs with a lawn mower to get everything to look like a lawn. The holes in the yard were filled in with dirt. There was also the trimming, and sometimes accidental removal, of trees. This all sums up nicely, but it took 15 people several days to do this.
With the yard ready for action, we were also able to smash out the broken windows (admittedly, it was fun to break stuff) and then board up those windows and doorways to make the area around the yard safer. We also painted lines on the basketball court and put the Mozaika logo at centre court (we love the fact that it is the only place in Nitra where our logo is permanent and sealed with 3 coats of varnish). The teams brought some colour to the centre by painting a large portion of the fencing and the events board. We also dug up the play structures and poured cement bases for them to prevent further theft. The inside signage for the centre was also given a new look by the team.
With our bright blue "I Love my City / Mozaika" shirts we attracted a lot of attention (we had quite the audience from surrounding balconies). With our event banner prominently displayed there was no question of what was going on. It was empowering when people would stop and express their amazement at what was being done. The directors of the centre repeatedly expressed their thanks. The Vice-Mayor of Nitra even visited and got involved in some of the work. One of the goals of this project was to gain visibility for Mozaika: check!