Václav Havel fundraiser sends bells around the world on a journey of remembrance and gratitude

Václav Havel, photo: Filip Jandourek

Foundation Charter 77 has started raising money for a bell to honour the late president Václav Havel on the fifth anniversary of his death in December of this year. The Bell for Havel project will send thirty small bells around the world bearing a message of remembrance and gratitude. They will eventually return to Prague to be sold in an auction. The money raised, together with contributions from individuals, will be used to cast a bell named Václav which will be placed at the Church of St. Havel in downtown Prague. I asked Evžen Hart from Foundation Charter 77 to tell me how the fund raiser will work.

Václav Havel,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“We have had thirty small bells cast which we will hand over to honourable people who had some relation to Mr. Václav Havel. The bell comes with a small book in which they will be asked to write a dedication and take a picture of themselves with the bell before handing it on to whomever they choose. We will watch the journey of those bells around the world and that journey will end on December 1st when we will sell them in an auction here in Prague to help raise money for a bell in honour of the late president.”

So the people through whose hands the bells will pass will not be contributing? That is just to promote the fund raiser?

“They can, they can. I will be delighted if they will. But it is not a condition that they should.”

So you have no idea where the bells will be traveling because everyone who gets it can choose who they want to pass it on to….

“Yes, and we hope to be very much surprised. When I handed over the first bell to the president’s widow Dagmar Havlová she expressed the wish to pass the bell on to the Dalai Lama who is expected to visit the Czech Republic sometime in the autumn. It is everyone’s choice who they want to pass it on to.”

And basically, anyone can contribute to the project by sending money to an account – is that right?

Evžen Hart,  photo: archive of Radio Prague
“Well, absolutely, absolutely. I expect we will get contributions from people abroad, people in Slovakia, Austria, Israel, the US, Canada ….anybody can contribute, that was my intention. You know I liked Mr. Havel very much, he was really an authentic person, and I never had the feeling that I, as a normal citizen, could do anything for him – everything happened about two levels above me. And this is my way of offering people the chance to express their feelings and love for Mr. Havel.

To find out more about the fund-raiser go to: www.zvonvaclav.cz