Czech Republic, Most
Brigdebulders club statusUnder Developement
The word "Most" means “bridge” in English. It is an inspiring place for an organisation that wants to build bridges. However, there are quite a few different sides or viewpoints about Most. The report of our KARAVAAN journalist, Klara, will shed some light on this.
The word 'Most' means 'bridge' in English. It is an inspiring place for an organisation that wants to build bridges. However, it is not the prettiest part of the country and often people ask why we would choose to be in Most when there are so many other places.
What they refer to are the deep crevasses on the north where the communists did strip mining yet where the pre-communist beauty of the land is starting to reappear again. It is actually a beautiful region with volcanic pimples and beautiful hilly paths and landmarks. Interesting fact is that Most only has one church with a steeple. Can you find any other city in Europe with one steeple?But there are still four small churches in this city of 69.000, yet during communism they were not allowed to have steeples.
There is a lot of mining in the Most region. Brown coal created a place for industry, and many people came to Most for work. With the demand for coal decreasing in the past decades, the unemployment figures in Most started rising. Today 21.4 % of the Most workforce is unemployed.
Most is a city in North Bohemia with just over 67.200 inhabitants. Strip coal mining and a quicksand disaster in the 19th century decimated this city and resulted in the highest unemployment rate in the Czech Republic – 25% (as of 2005). Even the Gothic Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (now a museum) was moved outside the city as a result of the mining. (This move was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the heaviest building ever moved on wheels.) But thanks to heavy social and European Union funding Most has begun to recover. It has become the heart of the Bohemian mining district and local business and industry are being developed.
The demolition of the old town and rebuilding of a new city center has helped change the face of the city. But it is still a place with high unemployment, limited possibilities for young people and only four small churches (with a combined attendance of just over 200). For Atlantic Bridge, the Most region includes the towns of Most, Litvinov, Zatec, Louny and Postoloprty.
MOST: THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY
It’s interesting that the name of the town means bridge. I didn’t see a single bridge while staying there, but the town was surrounded by swamps in the past so the name must have made sense at some point of its history.
Most seems to be one of the most notorious of all the Czech towns. It has the highest unemployment rate in the whole country, there are few jobs, not many opportunities for young people, omnipresent poverty and despair which lead to crime, and the shocking number of some 2000 homeless people (Most has population of some 66,000) just to name a few.
Our host pastor Marian knows about it better than anyone because he’s been working with people affected by poverty for years now. First he worked at the homeless shelter, and by the way, there are only 20 beds at the shelter; not even close to cater for the town’s needs. He told us about all the things that have been stolen from him; thieves climbing into his house through the windows, his car stolen… So, after hearing Marian’s story you could easily conclude that Most is a place you should avoid if possible.
However, there are people in Most who offer a different perspective. One of them is my host, a 28-year-old girl called Mirka who works for the city’s tourism office. Ten year ago she was part of a Bridgebuilders Club in Most. She thinks Most is a beautiful town that has many interesting things to offer. Whenever she talks to people from other parts of the country and tells them she lives in Most, they usually feel sorry for her. She doesn’t like her town’s reputation and tries her best to change it. After people visit Most for whatever reason, they’re usually positively surprised and lose their prejudice towards the town and people. At least that’s what Mirka told me.
There’s also a third Most citizen I met, Andy. Andy was part of the same Bridgebuilders club with Mirka and was also an EVS-er (European Volunteer) with Atlantic Bridge for a year. She is very young and one of the lucky people who have a job. Just like Mirka, she loves her town and wouldn’t change it for any other in the Czech Republic. But, she knows very well that Most has a lot of issues that aren’t being dealt with and that it would take a lot of time to fix them. She described the town as a dumping site for unemployed people from other parts of the country because when someone from any other city loses their job and can no longer afford to pay the rent, they just move to Most because the rent is cheaper here.
My experience of Most is very positive; the few people I met are really nice, the town is famous for a church that has been completely relocated and for a beautiful castle on the hill above the town. That’s even without the beautiful landscape that surrounds the town, the magnificent forests and hills.