Jary, the New BanglaKids Coordinator
Jaroslava Vaňková is the new coordinator of the BanglaKids program and the mother of two unique daughters. She enjoys interacting with people, communicates exceptionally well, and embraces new challenges fearlessly. Having gained insights into the worlds of both mentally disadvantaged and unemployed individuals, she navigates critical moments with a cool head. She now brings her rich customer care experience to the humanitarian organization ADRA.
Jary, you've spent a month at ADRA. What are your impressions so far?
So far, all of them have been very positive! It might sound strange, but genuinely very positive. I am pleasantly surprised by the people here because everyone is kind, welcoming, and supportive. It's like one big family. I don't want it to sound cliché, but everyone here is incredibly nice.
That's lovely. What drew you to the position of BanglaKids program coordinator?
Primarily, it was ADRA that caught my attention as a reputable and respected humanitarian and international organization. I hoped to utilize my English language skills here, which wasn't possible in my previous job. I wanted to work in an international environment where I could make a positive impact on the lives of others.
The diversity and challenges of the coordinator's role also intrigued me, especially the fact that the primary aspect of the job is communication and collaboration with people, whether on the side of our donors or our colleagues in Bangladesh. I like that because working with people is something I truly enjoy. And I love and care deeply about children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Where have you worked before, and what do you enjoy about working with people?
I started my career at the labor office in northern Bohemia. It was a very challenging yet rewarding experience. I learned a great deal about self-respect, assertiveness, and effective communication, especially in difficult situations.
After that, I spent two years working in England and France, which was a wonderful and enriching experience. I would recommend it to everyone to see how life is in another country and to expand their horizons.
Upon returning, I joined a logistics company in Prague as a customer service specialist. I gained further work experience in the finance department of a metals trading company, and after maternity leave, I worked almost five years in an international credit insurance company in the business department. Each job was completely different, but each was a new and pleasant experience. I always communicated a lot with people and enjoyed building relationships.
Three years ago, I decided to make a career change and started working with people with mental disabilities. It was a wonderful job and an amazing experience. I learned a great deal about empathy, compassion, and patience, and I developed a deep appreciation for the resilience and strength of people with disabilities.
Can you recall a challenging situation with people that you successfully resolved?
Ironically, it wasn't in my last job, as many might expect, but it was at the labor office. It often happens there that people threaten you, saying they'll wait for you somewhere and physically harm you. You hear foul language almost every day. It was my first significant work experience, and it was eye-opening and challenging. Initially, you're scared, but then you realize that, in most cases, it's just intimidation. This job taught me a lot, especially assertiveness, conflict resolution skills, and the importance of staying calm and professional under pressure.
That sounds like your motto: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Yes, that's true. I try not to let it bother me when someone is unpleasant. I can filter it out well and maintain my composure. Sometimes it really comes in handy; I'm not afraid of facing challenges and learning from them.
You describe yourself as an "enthusiastic collector of new experiences." What does that mean?
I love meeting new people, discovering new things, and stepping outside my comfort zone. Whether it's a new job, new interests, or new travel experiences, I enthusiastically dive into everything. A few years ago, I started practicing yoga, which is my great passion. My husband and I play golf, and I've been learning French for several years.
I've also always had a desire to learn to play the piano. My husband gave me a keyboard for Christmas two years ago, but I haven't had the chance to dedicate as much time as I'd like. Those are my aspirations for when I have more free time.
Certainly, I'll probably think of something else, because you never know what life will bring.
Does your "collecting" manifest in your travels?
Of course! I love to travel, but with a family, it's not entirely straightforward. My husband always likes to say, "You know, it's times four." Traveling alone is something different. Traveling with a family of four is quite financially demanding.
We try to travel around the Czech Republic as much as possible. I think we're an adventurous family – biking, hiking, whether it's summer vacations or weekend stays. We like it here because there are beautiful places. And when there's an opportunity, we also go abroad.
Last year, we had a wonderful fourteen-day tour of Brittany and Normandy. We also visited my friend in Limoges and stayed with her for three days. With a rented camper, we travelled through parts of Poland, Germany, and discovered Rügen. So, we're always somewhere. But we go camping under a tent. :)So, it's nice. I wish you many shared experiences on your travels and may the "times four" not block you.
Unfortunately, that is often very limiting. :)
Let's go back to your work with mentally disabled people for a moment.
I worked as a supported housing assistant. I visited these people in their homes and helped them with everything they needed. From health care, making appointments with doctors, accompanying them, communicating with authorities and caregivers, to personal care or planning leisure time.
It's like coming into a family and becoming a part of it. I visited them in their homes for 3 years. I know their worries, their fears, their problems. I try to stay in touch with them when I have time, or I meet some of them in a café.
These people are absolutely amazing and kind. They are sincere; when they are happy about something, they express it, just as when something bothers them. I really like that. What I absolutely hate is lies and pretence. When I discover these qualities in a person, I try to avoid them.
It seems like caregiving is in your genes, that they become part of your network or even family.
Yes, that's how it is. I have it set up that way. Whether I have any friends, I always involve them in my family. I always have the need to fully integrate those people into my life, but at the same time, I let myself be drawn into their lives, so it's interconnected.
In general, I really enjoy the company of nice people. I like it when it's lively, but I also don't avoid serious topics. I enjoy hosting guests. I like preparing some refreshments, and it brings me joy when people feel good at our home.
On the other hand, there are times when I need peace. To escape somewhere from everything and everyone, and just be alone with myself. I long to go somewhere alone for a weekend or even on vacation, maybe for a week, and clear my head a bit, so I can return and enjoy the company again. I would say that sometimes two extremes clash within me, but the first trait definitely prevails.
It seems to me that one complements the other. If you couldn't be alone with yourself occasionally, you might gradually wither in the company of others.
Probably yes. Maybe my mind and soul need it. Just disconnect from everything for a while, be alone with myself, and organize my thoughts so that I can then devote myself to others again.
What is ultimately most important to you in life?
My children, my family. That is the most for me. Even though being a mom is sometimes really tough, I can't imagine not having them.When the girls were very little, I used to wake up at night with catastrophic scenarios running through my head, fearing something might happen to them. Every mom probably knows that feeling. But I've been fighting with panic fear for them since they were born. I have a nickname at home, the "black chronicle." I try to work with that fear, not forbid them certain things, but it's sometimes really tough.
Is it getting better over time?
I'm constantly working on it, and maybe it's better now that the girls are older, and I know that they can assess danger and evaluate risks.
Perhaps this area is a very sensitive topic for me. And honestly, I'm curious about how I'll handle it in Bangladesh.
We'll be happy to help you with that in the team.
Thanks, then I'm calm. :)
Thank you for the interview.