Celtic music benefits Czech children

Ceolta si, photo: www.youghalchamber.ie

The Czech Republic today is without a Children's hospice, but a multi-million dollar effort is now underway to change that. Since 1991 The Klicek foundation has sought to establish such a care center. They recently got a boost from some talented visitors.

Thousands of Czechs and visitors alike may have mistaken Old Town Square for Ireland this weekend. Traditional Celtic Music filled the air, played by a group of charitable Irish teens. Ce-ol-ta si flew from their small village in Cork to help out Czech children who are gravely ill. Businessman Pat Collins helped bring the band to Prague.

"Through my travels here in the Czech Republic I became aware of this charity called Klicek. We heard about the wonderful work that they do. I guess we just had in mind that it would be very nice if we could do something to try to help. We felt that maybe by inviting our friends in the music organization to come across and put on a few shows that any contribution that we could make would go a long way to a very worthy cause here."

Klicek works to comfort kids afflicted with terrible diseases. Today the organization is trying to build the Czech Republic's first children's hospice, which would allow families to stay together as a child fights against life-threatening illnesses.

Currently half of the hospice in Malejovice is finished and offers respite, non-medical care. The performers from Ireland came to help the next phase, according to Klicek field worker Lenka Lando:

"The thing which we are trying to do here is to raise the money for a place which could be also with the medical care, so sick children and their families could actually stay there."

During four performances in Stare Mesto and Hradcany, Ceolta Si had people smiling and even dancing.

Many stuffed Czech crowns, Euros and occasionally American dollars -into the water jugs the band used to collect donations. And of course, there were plenty of coins to count.

The donations help, but they are just the beginning of a long financial climb. Executive Director Jiri Kralovec estimates that the new nursing unit will cost 50 million crowns, or a little more than 2 million U.S. dollars, to build. Lando adds:

"The final amount of money needed is going to be known only when they will completely finish with the project documentation. Now it's the question about if there is going to be, I don't know, the center oxygen or if there's going to be mobile oxygen."

So small last minute details still have to be worked out.

"It's very different of amount of money if you have the center oxygen, for example, or if you have the mobile oxygen. So they are details, but they are expensive details."

Hospice work is hard work. Though hospices often can't cure diseases, they can make sure that kids don't have to face those diseases alone. Lando again:

"They need somebody to work with them or be with them in a normal human way, not looking at them in a funny way just because they are ill. Somebody who accepts that [the children] are ill, is trying to help as much as they can, but they still are normal. And that's why I do it."

And that's why 28 musicians and dancers traveled to Prague from Ireland: to help as much as they can.