To the Editors:

The handicapped in our country have been forced into isolation, removed from sight into homes and institutions. There are a million of them in Czechoslovakia, in a population of only fifteen million. This did not trouble us. The state said they were being looked after, so we chose to believe it.

This was our habit of inhumanity. It would have been inhuman even if the state had been looking after these people well. But it turns out that it has been looking after them badly. There is practically no equipment, no nursing, sometimes not even the most basic conditions for living in dignity.

We are now changing the state. But we also need to change our habits. The handicapped must be brought back from the dark and given a place in our lives. In civilized societies the less fortunate are not shut away from the more fortunate. The handicapped are not forgotten and the lucky realize that there is much to be gained from facing up to their obligations toward others. This is the habit of humanity, and we in our country want to acquire it.

But money is needed for equipment, for medicines and training, and for many other things which, like the spirit of charity itself, have been in drastically short supply. We are now forming the Czechoslovak Society for the Handicapped, and would welcome your support. All contributions are tax-deductible and should be made out to the Charter 77 Foundation, marked for the account of CSH, and sent to the Charter 77 Foundation, 888 7th Avenue, Room 3301, New York, NY 10106.

Please help us to help those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to help themselves.

Olga Havel
Prague, Czechoslovakia

This Issue

June 14, 1990