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Authors: Mrs. Jana & Mr. Jaromir Kratochvil (physician),

Members of the organization "Movement for Humanitarian Help":

Both husband and wife were born in 1918. They studied together at the Masaryk University in Brno, Moravia. Charles acquired his graduate diploma of Mechanical Engineer at the Technical Faculty of the afore-said university, while Olga completed her study there at the Philosophical Faculty.

In 1948, they both emigrated via Switzerland to Montreal, Canada. Before long, he founded under his own name an enterprise where valves and fittings were produced.. As regards his beginnings in Canada, he said: " Luckily, I have had an excellent education from Brno University. Having such a sound basis, I was able to fulfill my dream as entrepreneur. Nothing discouraged me from attaining my goal". In fact, he has achieved his objective which was considered by many as an impossible feat. Indeed, one has to consider that he acquired it in spite of such a fierce and huge competition which existed particularly on the American continent in those days. Before long, his Montreal enterprise was able to establish branch offices in the USA, Great Britain, Portugal, South Korea and Thailand. Nowadays, his firm is a family venture, because all his three sons are also very active in his enterprise. In reality, his commercial business is one of the biggest of its kind in the whole world. Besides, his firm belongs to the 200 most successful enterprises in Canada. Charles, who is President of the company, has been granted various awards as the best in his field not only in the Province of Quebec, Canada, but also as respects the whole territory of Canada. In addition, Charles is also President of the Canadian & Czech Chamber of Commerce of which Mr. Thomas Bata is Chairmain of the Board of Directors.

As for his wife Olga, she is Vice-president of the Czech & Slovak Association. In the course of her life, she has remarkably been working for the Czech community in Canada. As a reward, she got an honorable Masaryk Award, which was also conferred upon her husband a little later. Concerning the time after August 21, 1968 when Czechoslovakia was occupied by various "fraternal" armies of the Communist coalition, she took care of many refugees who escaped from Czechoslovakia to Canada, in order to facilitate their beginnings of life in their newly acquired homes.

During all their activities, both Charles and Olga have constantly been contributing by considerable financial amounts to many mainly charitable projects in the world. Moreover, since 1990, they have been supporting all the humanitarian objectives, taking place through the medium of the Committee of Good Will in the Czech Republic . Into the bargain , they have their own endowment estabishment called "VELAN" which has been used for financing of different schemes, like construction of a hospital in Africa, &c.

In the year 1990, when Charles had in the Canadian capital, Ottawa heard Mrs. Olga Havlova, wife of the former president of the Czech Replublic, Mr. Vaclav Havel speak about the way Bolsheviks destroyed Czech Health Service, he immediately presented a $100.000 donation for the building of Children’s Hospital in Brno. This has given to Mrs. Olga Havlova an incentive to arrange for a foundation of the Committee of Good Will, and she has always considered both Charles and Olga Velan to be its co-founders. Consequently, they both have constantly been supporting this committee, and they represent it in Canada as well. Furthermore, in 1991, they both founded and have continued to support programs of any short-term sojourns of physicians from the Czech Republic to enable them to aquire valuable additional experiences at some university hospitals.

As for the organization CARITAS { since 1999, it was renamed OLGA, in honor of Mrs. Olga Velan}, it continues to engage invariably, on the basis of Velan’s support, in aiding financially to build protected apartments for needy people at Blansko-Klepacov, Moravia. Moreover, they keep furthering various humanitarian designs, created by the "Committee of Good Will".

Considering Velans’ support of cultural projects, it is essential to mention that in 1991, Charles founded, along with the famous violinist Joseph Suk, an " Antonin Dvorak Fund" . The latter serves to organize contests of young Canadian musicians, in order to enhance their interpreting Czech music. Both Charles and Olga contribute by their funds to organize special Olympic Games for Handicapped Persons throughout the world. Also, Charles aided financially to create the Museum of Cosmology In Quebec,Canada which was the first one of its kind. After all, this field of activity has been a constant hobby of Charles’ life, and actually, he expertly wrote several books about that subject.

In 1998, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic in Prague conferred on both Velans an award, called "Gratias agit" for their spreading of good name of the Czech Republic throughout the world. Czech & Slovak associations, and the organization " Masaryk & Sokol" were those which suggested conferring such a prize on them, justifying it by their constant work and support of the Czech thoughts among the Czech & Slovak as well as Canadian communities. Another support was rendered by the Czech & Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The last-mentioned organization has especially emphasized that Charles Velan, an outstanding professional as well as a recipient of several prominent prizes, and his wife Olga, a well-known philanthopist, "have never forgotten their origin, and in so doing, they have continuously been the best propagators of the good name of the Czech Republic in Canada". In 1991, there was also submitted by the Committee of Good Will, Section Endowment of Mrs. Olga Velan, a recommendation which indicated that their biggest merit was due to organizing of the Czech & Slovak physicians’ short-term stays in various prestigious university hospitals either in Canada or in the USA. Thus, up until March, 1998, already 100 young Czech & Slovak physicians could participate in two-month sojourns within its framework on the North American continent. Both Charles and Olga constantly carry on in contributing to this program. Henceforward, in 1997, they came to the rescue financially by donating money for renovating and reclaiming all those areas which had been so heavily damaged by the floods in Moravia. Within this scope of their actions, a Home for Senior Citizens at Bohuslavice, near Sumperk, Moravia was also constructed. As is well known, several years ago, they also helped substantially in establishing of the Center for Gypsy Youth in Brno- Zidenice Quarter, and they continue in their contributions to its incessant working maintenance.

The humanitarian works of both Charles and Olga Velan are extremely important in relation to much needed social improvement aspects of the Czech Republic. According to an indication of the Committee of Good Will, until March 1998, they donated more than half a million of Canadian dollars to various organization in the Czech Republic. Besides, their generous funding is further continued on a large scale. Since 1997, the civic association "Movement for Humanitarian Help" in Blansko, Moravia considers it to be a great honor to be assisted by the aid of Charles and Olga Velan to their yearly plans. Thus, there is no end to all our thanks to be expressed to these two persons!!!

Translated by Charles Opatrny

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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