The Movement On Own Feet - Centipede

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  • Pupils of 7.A class in elementary school in Norwegian Roeren decided that one day establish a school "pupil café". Profit from the sale should be designated for a good cause and the choice fell on a Centipede. Assortment of goods offered was varied - different drinks, sausages and desserts. The event was very successful. Profit 3 500, - NOK, which was sent to the Centipede account, speaks for itself. Organizers had the joy of a beautiful day and the other from the fact that you can buy at school various delicacies.

  • On Friday, October 24, 2014 visited Mrs. Bela Centipede school in the Norwegian Roeren. On this day children from Roeren celibrated the 10th anniversary of cooperation with the Movement. Centipede anthem rang, the children sang and danced. During the celebrations received Mrs. Bela gift for Centipede - a check for 64 100, - NOK. During 10 years of working children from Roeren were able to gather fantastic amount of 526 000, - NOK, which has helped many of their friends in the Balkan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank you very much to all children and friends of Centipede in Roeren for their excellent work for the Movement. For details click here.

  • It has been 12 years since we started the excellent cooperation with the Army of the Czech Republic. During this time we have delivered ambulances to Balkans, the material help, the schools have been reconstructed. The material help as well as school equipment went also to Iraq. To Afghanistan we have sent mostly the money, so the help could be bought at local firms.

  • On Saturday April 28, 2012 Mrs. Bela accompanied by Sister Dominika Bohušová OP went to the airport to see off the soldiers flying to Afghanistan. With the soldiers going to Logar Mrs. Bela sent another part of Centipede´s help - 10.000,- USD, the gift of the Centipede children from the Aal school in Norway. On behalf of H.E. Dominik Cardinal Duka OP, sister Dominika presented the soldiers with the medallions of the Holy Mary to protect them from any danger and conveyed them Cardinal´s blessings. All together during the last 3 years the movement On Own Feet - Centipede has donated 100 000,- USD to CIMIC designated as the help to Afghan children.

  • On December 6, 2011 Centipede school in Norwegian Aal celebrated 150th anniversary of founding. On this occasion Centipede children's small market took place. The children managed to get fantastic 24 000,- NOK. The whole amount has been sent to the Centipede account.

  • On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, Mrs. Běla visited the Centipede school in Norwegian Aal. The whole school, headed by director Kjell Arne Haavaldsen, prepared a wonderful welcome for Mrs. Běla. Mrs. Běla informed the children and teachers about the work of our soldiers of the CIMIC unit in Afghanistan. She accompanied her lecture with photographs taken in Logar. The children were interested in the work of the soldiers very much and asked a lot of questions from the everyday life of the mission. They also learned how their friends in Afghanistan live and how the money collected for them was used. The whole school is getting ready for the Christmas event organized for the Centipede. Mrs. Běla thanked very much for the Centipede day out of which a fantastic amount of 30 000,- NOK was sent to the Centipede.

  • 726 mobile phones recycled. On Own Feet receives NOK 23.000 to support children in Afghanistan. Bela Gran Jensen who leads the On Own Feet organization received the good news last week and was overwhelmed. The donation will be used to build a well for a school in the Logar province in Afghanistan. In addition we will buy three school books for each pupil at the school, she says. The donation will come in addition to the contribution Data Respons gives every year.

  • Denmark main collector. Data Respons Denmark has made the mobile recycling through Anovo into a national event in Denmark. A lot of attention in local and national media resulted in a various initiatives in the Herlev area and schools, businesses and senior citizens have given their old phones to Data Respons for recycling. Data Respons Denmark received 666 phones for recycling. A school in Řsterbro who collected 110 phones and another school in Gentofte collected 197 phones. A senior citizen club has helpedcollect phones from individuals and have taken over the project when it was completed. The other Data Respons offices have collected around 50 phones which make the total 726.

  • On Monday, December 13, 2010, the opening ceremony of the exhibition „My Dream about Afghanistan“ took place in the lobby of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. Click here.

  • In Roeren, Norway, the children from the Centipede school prepared a celebration in the form of the UN Day. During all the performances (that were very successful) the idea of right of the children for education and peaceful life was promoted. The children from Roeren are very proud that through the Centipede, they can cooperate with the Czech soldiers in Afghanistan. They handed over a cheque for 33 378,- NOK to Mrs. Běla. From beginning of cooperation with the Centipede, more than 250 000,- NOK was collected. Congratulation on this fantastic work !!

  • A Different Kind of Army. Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010. PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC—Most children are innocent and naďve. In the best of circumstances, they start off life unaware of its harsh realities. Children in war-torn regions do not enjoy this luxury. They are forced to grow up quickly, often seeing looting, hunger, rape, ethnic cleansing, religious intolerance, and horrific violence. What can people in distant countries do to help children in war-zones? What can children living in safety do to help children facing such difficulties and dangers? Several hundred thousand Centipede Children, and their leader Bela Gran Jensen, know the answer. Jensen, a Norwegian born in Prague, created the Movement "On Own Feet; the Centipede Children." It is a fully-voluntary humanitarian and peace organization which allows children to help other children: She founded the group exactly twenty years ago. Czech playwright Vaclav Havel became its first Patron. The project began at one school with a simple fundraising drive. Children made greeting cards and sold them to buy toys and medical supplies for children in need. This effort slowly picked up pace as more schools and more children began doing the same. The group took on the name Centipede Children. It is indeed a project carried forward by many small legs. Ten years ago Jensen enlisted the help of the Czech military to help deliver the supplies the school children had gathered. The Czech Army General Staff, the Czech Defense Ministry and Czech peacekeeping soldiers contribute significantly to the activities of the Centipede Movement. "Not in a million years would I have imagined that the best friend of the Centipede children's peace movement was going to be the Czech military," Jensen says, beaming with pride. Not content with having the cooperation of the Czech top brass, she was invited to address an assembly of all NATO Ministers of Defense where she reminded them of the role her group could play in taking aid to children in war-torn regions. On a visit to the Czech Republic, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan met some of these Centipede Children. They promised to raise enough money to buy an ambulance to send to Prystina in war-torn Balkans. What started with greeting cards became a veritable cottage industry of fundraising activities the children developed on their own. In the end, the children raised enough funds to purchase four ambulances, not one. Jensen knows that teaching children they can make a difference is more valuable that any weapon. After all, she told me, children are innately optimistic and can overlook the seeming impossibility of repairing damage from war and civil strife. Since it began in 1990, the Centipede Movement has spread to Slovakia, Poland, Norway and Canada with a total of more than 2,500 schools participating. Their activities include equipping children's hospitals in Eastern Europe. Since 2000, they have been in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Asia, rebuilding schools and classrooms in war-torn countries. They have also been providing these schools with text books, educational supplies, essential medical care, and classroom technology. In Jensen's home office, there are boxes filled with awards, medals, and certificates of recognition she has received for her work with the Centipede children. But she chooses to keep a low profile. The children determine the direction of most of the activities. When the tsunami struck southeast Asia, the Centipede children decided to help raise relief funds. The Czech Ambassador to Thailand wrote back to the children informing them that the children who received aid sent their greetings and special thanks. Sometimes the children raise $1,000. Sometimes they raise $50,000. Although the idea is to empower children to know they can make a difference, the financial contributions over 20 years from this movement total millions of dollars."The Centipede children send material help, but with that, also their love," says Jensen. Today, thousands of overjoyed school children will gather in a Prague stadium to honor the Centipede movement's twentieth anniversary. A Bohemian proverb states that one generation plants trees so that the next can enjoy the shade. Mrs. Jensen and the Movement On Own Feet have planted a forest.

By Thor Halvorssen

Thor Halvorssen, founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, has been the patron of the Movement "On Own Feet; the Centipede Children" since 2009.
Read the original article in The Huffington Post.

  • On Thursday, May 13, 2010, the Centipede children and the representatives of the Army of the Czech Republic met at Dukla stadium at Juliska. Click here.

  • Karolína Šedivcová, the student of the gymnasium of Jiří Orten in Kutná Hora won in international literary competition. Click here.

  • On October 2009 the children from Norwegian Centipede school in Roren organised Centipede Day. Fantastic 49 000,- NOK (all the profits) - was sent to the Centipede account.

  • Mrs. Běla received a mail from Director of Institutional Affairs of Human Rights Foundation Alex Gladstein.

Dear Bela,
I hope you are well! I write from HRF’s New York offices with news from Thor, who sends his best.
We are absolutely stunned at the quality and beauty of these Christmas cards that you have sent. They are simply amazing. We would love to use them this year. If numbers are not an issue, we will gladly take 600 of them. We will make sure each and every one amazes one of our friends here in America...

Hope to hear from you soon,

  • The president of the Human Rights Foundation Thor Halvorssen became a patron of the Movement. Click here.

  • From Monday, May 18, 2009 a conference „Oslo Freedom Forum" has taken place in Oslo. Various people from all around the world, who risked their lives for freedom or still do so, presented their speeches. Among them for example Mrs. Elena Bonner – the wife of the Nobel Prize winner Andrej Sacharov, Jung Chang, the Chinese writer living in exile, and many others. Mrs. Běla was honoured with the invitation to this conference. She had the possibility to talk to many of those significant people and introduce the Centipede project „No Bullies Fashion“. Among the people who extremely impressed Mrs. Běla were especially the writer and film producer Sarah Ferguson – Duchess of York and Vladimir Bukovskij – writer who was imprisoned for 12 years in Soviet prisons and other facilities for his resistance against the regime.
  • Allow us to announce very sad news. On Thursday, March 26, 2009, a great Centipede friend, fantastic and noble man, composer of the Centipede anthem and musical Never Be Alone, famous Norwegian composer Arne Bendiksen, passed away. He co-operated with the Centipede from its very beginning. During those more than 18 years, a lot of Centipede children and friends had the honour to meet Mr. Bendiksen not only in Norway, but also in the Czech Republic. For the last time, Mr. Bendiksen visited our country at the occasion of the opening of the Czech version of the musical Never Be Alone in February 2008. He will always remain in our hearts as fantastic, warm hearted and friendly person. We have been and will always be honoured to count Mr. Bendiksen among the Centipede friends and fans. His death is a great loss for the world of music. May He rest in peace.

When I first saw Arne Bendiksen I only had one question: "How old is he?" Maybe this wasn't too polite but I hadn't seen such a lively person before. Really, every time I saw him I felt great. He was shining like the sun and his smile gave us the power: power to sing, power to act and power to live. We feel the sorrow for him and if I could speak on behalf of the whole our group his smile will shine in our hearts forever.

Jan Tyl, the member of the Disman radio choir

  • On Wednesday, March 25, 2009 the Centipede school in Roren in Norway organised the "U.N. Day". Click here.

  • A Centipede week was organized in the Norwegian Centipede in Al and all the profits (wonderful - 27 786,- NOK) was sent to the Centipede account. Click here.

  • On Friday, December 5, 2008, the Centipede Christmas concert took place in the ballroom of Lucerna. Click here.

  • People in Sweden have expressed an interest in the Centipede Movement. On Friday, September 12, 2008, an opening night of the Centipede musical "Never Be Alone" will take place in the Swedish city of Linköping. Mrs.Bela and the composer of the musical, Mr.Arne Bendiksen, will be present at the performance. The musical will be performed by children of the Disman radio choir from Prague. Profits will be deposited into the Centipede account.

  • On Tuesday, June 10, 2008 the Theatre of Estates in Prague welcomed valuable guests. Another annual ceremony of the “D award” took place. Click here.

  • On April, 2008 a children celebration  in Norwegian Centipede school in Roren took place.

  • On Tuesday, February 19, 2008 the children from Norwegian school in Roren sent 5 700,- NOK to the Centipede account. All selling glass and ceramic subjects was made by children artists from this school.

  • On Tuesday, February 5, 2008 an opening night of the Czech version of the musical „Never Be Alone“ took place in theatre Minor. Except respected quests from the Centipede patrons and friends, also the author of the musical was present – significant Norwegian composer Arne Bendiksen with his wife. Click here.

  • The school in Roren is a wonderful Centipede school. On January 3, 2008 was delivered E-mail to Mrs. Bela: RIKTIG GODT NYTT AR til deg ogsa, Bela. Skal vi vare sa optimistiske at vi tror pa et ar med mindre elendighet i verden? Det er vel dessverre ikke sa mye som tyder pa det, men sa var det dette med hapet da, som vi ikke har lov til a gi opp. Else og jeg har vart i banken i dag og overfort 51 000,- NOK til Tusenbeinbevegelsen, haper at disse pengene kan vare med pa a gi noen barn fremtidshap. Mange hilsener fra Anders og alle pa Roren skole.

  • On Friday, December 7, 2007 ar 3.00 p.m. started Christmas Centipede concert 2007 in Lucerna Palace in Prague. Click here.

  • On Monday, June 25, 2007 at 2.30 p.m., this year’s “D awards” were presented in the Theatre of Estates in Prague. Click here.

  • On Sunday and Monday, June 24 and 25, 2007, the Army of the Czech Republic organized the annual days for children and youth. Click here.

  • The children from Norwegian school in Roren sent fantastic 5 400,- NOK to the Centipede account.

  • On Tuesday, June 19, 2007 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Mr. Karel Schwarzenberg presented to the Centipede the award “Gratias Agit 2007”. Click here.

  • On Saturday, February 17, the Centipede „double week“, organized by the soldiers from the CIMIC PRT troops in Feyzabad, Afghanistan, culminated. Click here.

  • Secretary general of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer sent Compliment of the Season to the Centipede children. Click here.

  • On Friday, December 8, 2006, Centipede’s Christmas concert took place in Lucerna Palace. Click here.

  • On October 24, 2006 the "UN Day" in the Centipede school in Roren in Norway took place. The children managed to get fantastic 35 750,- NOK. The whole amount has been sent imediately to the Centipede account. Congratulations to the great success !!

  • On Monday, October 30, Mrs. Bela together with General Pupis and Col. Gireth visited village Grk in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to open a new school that has been built by the soldiers of Czech Army in the co-operation with Centipede. Click here.

  • On Friday, October 20, Mr. Arne Bendiksen, a well-known Norwegian composer, author of the Centipede anthem „Never Be Alone“ and a huge Centipede friend, celebrated his great anniversary. On this occasion, Mr. Bendiksen and his wife visited Czech Republic. Click here.

  • On Wednesday, May 31, 2006 His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, visited personally the children in the House of Family in Phnom Penh. Click here.

  • On Monday, April 24, 2006, the members of the Rotary Club Gardemoen started to build gapahuk in the zoo farm in the psychiatric hospital for children in Opařany, as promised. Click here.

  • On Saturday, March 11, 2006 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia the meeting of the Czech Ambassadors posted in Asia. Ms Hanka Flanderová from the Czech Embassy in Bangkok wrote. Click here.

  • On March 2, 2006 a meeting of Centipede children and teachers with the president of the movement Mrs. Běla Gran Jensen took place at 2nd elementary school in Litomysl. Click here.

  • On Tuesday, February 21, 2006 Ms Hanka Flanderová from the Czech Embassy in Bangkok returned from Phnom Penh, where (except the working issues) I has the great opportunity to visit all the children that Centipede is sending its love and happiness to. Click here.

  • Children, whose greetings were used as Christmas and New Years greetings, are receiving the thankful letters these days. Everybody shows admiration about the work which helps ease life to the friends of the children from less lucky countries. Where were the Christmas cards sent to? To France, Norway, Switzerland, Czech Republic and many others...

  • On January 18, 2006, the special car for the Institute of Social Care for Children in Sokolov was handed over. Aside the companies that sponsored the car, there were also three „centipedes“from 3rd elementary school in Chodov (Sokolov region) who contributed with 20 000,- Czech crowns. New Renault Kangoo is decorated with a beautiful Centipede.

  • On January 14, the Children´s Day was celebrated in Thailand. Click here.

  • Centipede is recognized as an organization, which with its presents helped to psychologically devastated children to come back to ordinary life again. Click here.

  • On December 17, 2005, during the festive celebrations of the name day of the Patron of the Order of St. Lazarus, the Order investiture took place. Grand Master of the Order HRH Prince Charles-Philippe d´Orléans, Duke of Anjou, carried out the investiture. Grand Chancellor H.E. count Philippe Piccapietra, Grand Secretary H.E. Aaron Kiely and 47th Grand Master of the Order of Knights with red star H.E. Jiri Kopejsko, O.Cr. were present as well. The vicar of the Spiritual Prior Geno Binovec celebrated the service. During the investiture, His Lordship Thomas Staffort Viscount St. Cyres was admitted to the Order as the Knight of Justice. The counseurs from Ireland and many representatives of public and business life were present, including representatives of the Order of St. Hubertus, Czech Crown and crs. Bela Jensen, the founder of the Centipede movement.

  • On Friday, December 9, 2005 – for the 15th time already – Centipede children from Czech Republic, Norway and Slovakia met at the Christmas concert in Lucerna in Prague. Click here.

  • On Sunday, December 4, 2005 the delegation of the Czech Centipede children flew to Brussels, together with Mrs. Bela and Mr. Prochazka from AVIS to introduce the book „Flying together only to war“. On Monday, December 5, they met Secretary General of NATO His Excellency Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who became a patron of the movement. Click here.

  • The Norwegian Centipede city Al has been awarded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), which is directly supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the help that the city is providing to the war affected areas or places hit by the natural disasters. In the certificate, which is a part of the reward, the cooperation with the movement „On Own Feet“ is mentioned. We appreciate very much all the devoted people in the Al region and sincerely congratulate them on this special occasion.

  • Friday, September 16, 2005 was a very memorable day for the Centipede. The book „We fly together only to war“ was launched. The event took place in Toskansky Palace in Prague. Click here.

  • On July 27, 2005 Mrs. Bela flew to Basra, Iraq, with the Centipede gifts for the children. Click here.

  • Not long after Mrs. Bela´s return, Ms. Hana Flanderova sent a letter full of memories about Mrs. Bela´s visit. Click here.

  • The ambulance was handed over during the ceremony taking place in Babin Most at the beginning of August, 2004, attended not only by the local inhabitants, who consider this help almost as a miracle, and Czech soldiers of th 5th Czech-Slovak KFOR Battalion, but also by the Czech Prime Minister Vladimír Špidla and Minister of Defence Miroslav Kostelka. Mrs. Běla personally handed over the keys of the new Centipede ambulance.

  • After a short time, it was obvious that the co-operation between the Armed Forces of the Chech Republic and "On Own Feet" which, by the way, has lasted for several years, could bring and was bringing a number of positive benefits. I realised that the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade and the Centipede movement have a lot in common. They will never be satisfied with good intentions or only with words. They are trying so hard with their creative work. With their involvement and willingness to do not only what is specified but also something extra, they hope that their words and good intentions will become as tangible as possíble for the afficted. Colonel Aleš Opata

  • On September 22, 2003 U. N. General Secretary Lord George Robertson became patron for the Movement.

  • On the holidays of the 2003 school year handed over the school in Doberdol which was reconstructed thanks to cooperation 3rd Czech-Slovak KFOR Battalion, Norwegian company Data Respons and Centipede Children.

  • On May 23, 2003 Centipede movement had begun a huge campaign for collecting toys and vitamins. The first of these flew in by troop carrier on May 26, 2003, and just one day later the soldiers began distributing them.

  • On spring, 2003 the dream of many teachers and boys on Basra was fulfilled by Mrs. Běla. "I tried to think how the Centipede children could help this school. We managed to acquire the symbolic 77 777,- Centipede crowns fot the 7th Field Hospital, which invested them through the CIMIC group in the local Al-Areen school. We want to give the Iraqi children hope for a better life. They have the right to education and a better future. We brought them not only the longed for computer including a printer, with possibility of linking up to the internet, but, in addition, six hundred small an large copybooks, sets of crayons, rulers, paper and gifts from the children in the 15th elementary school in Plzeň. As I look around, I believe that the teachers and children here are very able; they welcomed us in a friendly manner. The teacher of English an the headmaster of the school Tariq Ahmed Garyb, showed interest in joining the Centipede movement and promised help in contacting other schools. I think that, in the future, it will become a lovely Centipede school."

  • On September 2, 2002 the rebuilding of the school, which among other things involved new flooring, changing doors, painting the exterior and interior, a new roof and providing school furniture, was carried out by members of the 1st Czech-Slovak KFOR Battalion. The project in the small Kosovan village of Braine started within the framework of operation PUPY at the beginning of the holidays. The necessary finance, almost 20,000,- Euros, was provided by the Centipede children under the leadership of Mrs. Běla. With her at the inauguration were the Minister of Defence, Jaroslav Tvrdík, members of the General Staff, representatives of local government and, of course, members of the Battalion.

  • On April 21, 2002 Jaroslav Tvrdík, Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, and the Slovak Minister of Defence, Jozef Stank, handed over Centipede children humanitarian gift: schoolbags, school accessories, including the water pumps for Kosovo schools in the presence of prezdent o movement Mrs. Běla.

  • In the summer 1999 the Centipede children met with U. N. General Secretary Mr. Kofi Annan. They promised him that they would send an ambulance to the Balkans. The children managed to earn enough money for four ambulances.

  • On September 23, 1998 Audience of the Centipede children by Pope John Paul II in Vatican.
  • On March 19, 1997 Norwegian Queen Sonja visited Centipede school in Slany
  • On October 28, 1996 Distinguished Service Medal, Grade II, given by president Vaclav Havel.

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