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March 21, 2016

Homeless Guide Tours of Prague

Homeless Guide Tours of Prague

Pragulic is a social enterprise that challenges the stereotypes associated with homelessness by enabling people to experience the world from a homeless perspective. 

Between 4,000 and 10,000 people are living on the streets of Prague. Even though homelessness is a huge and growing problem, many people either deny it exists or naively assume that most homeless people deliberately choose to live on the streets.

This situation prompted three students from Charles University in Prague to establish "Pragulic", an initiative that gives homeless people an opportunity to become tour guides.

“It all started after the Social Impact Award in Prague in 2012, where we won the community vote”, remembers Tereza Jurečková. Since then, Pragulic has received many international awards, such as the ERSTE Foundation Award for Social Integration and the Fidelity Future Impact Prize. “Although most people overlook homeless persons, we learned that they have big potential”, Jurečková adds. “We hope that we can help these people restart their lives, as well as — what is even more important — educate the public.”

The city tours guided by homeless and socially disadvantaged people stray from the well-trodden sightseeing path. Instead, participants experience the hidden side of the city and see things from the perspective of homelessness. Each guide creates an original walking tour based on his or her life story. Some guides can speak several languages, so a tour may be conducted in Czech, English or Russian.

Robert, for example, is a railway enthusiast who will show you a famous railway squat. Zuzana, a former drug addict, describes how the Prague drug scene works and how it has evolved over the years from the Communist era to the present day. Zuzka will guide you through places in the very heart of the city that you may have overlooked and can tell you things you’d likely rather not know. Difficult sights and challenging narratives like these have the power to change conventional opinions about homeless people and their immediate surroundings.

More information about the initiative can be found on the Pragulic website.