Many people remember the words of Bulgakov's Woland, "Man is suddenly mortal" The whole drama of this situation is that the majority of people are not ready to meet death. Especially for young people - it seems that the world is at your feet, but suddenly you are told that you're ill. With cancer, for example. A person frantically begins to search for a way out of this situation. He begins to fight for his life. And in this fight even the smallest support can make a miracle, but the most insignificant indifference can destroy.
February 15 - World Day of the child with cancer. Director of the Foundation "Children of Nikopol" Margarita GORBANENKO gives an interview with Alexander Moiseenkova,the correspondent of "Reporter".
- It all began in 2007 when our daughter Valeria had fallen ill. When she was diagnosed, we hit the oncology department of Dnipropetrovsk Regional Children's Hospital. There for the first time we saw the child without hair - a girl of 17. We were shocked. There were other children, and we realized that we were on one front line with them, that we have to fight for a long time, and the fight will be difficult. It was a two-year struggle, when every day you woke up, opened your eyes and prayed for only one thing - that this day wouldn't be the last.
January 27, 2009 a daughter died. The Children's department was my school of life, and the first thing I realized was, that without the help of people Lera and we would not be able to lead this fight. Imagine - it was in a hospital, where we was far away from home, no one may bring us what we needed, so other patients from the hospital helped us: someone shared the medicine, someone - the food. After that, we realize that we couldn't stay away. And the first thing I did after the death of Valeria, I sent drugs that were with us, for a girl to Belarus and a boy to Kiev. That were very expensive drugs, they couldn't buy them without a prescription. That was the first step. Then the need to give something to someone was so strong that I could not do otherwise. I felt the need not to close and live for myself again, but the need to open up and live for others.
- Oh, no! The first attempts were spontaneous, ad-hoc. I saw that one child needed a help - I helped. Every day I started with the opening of the site "Donor" I knew all the kids who are treated in Nikopol, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, who are treated abroad. For some reason, it especially felt sorry teenagers.
- Why not? After all, usually small children are the most helpless ...
- Little kids may cause emotion, sentimental tears, all at once pass out: "Oh, what a pretty baby, we should help him." And when we sit in front of 18-year-old boy or a girl, and he or she has a terrible disease, for some reason we do not pay attention such a child . But he needed the same treatment or even twice more, because the dosage for adults more than for a little. It's much more difficult with teenagers, they need a lot of money for treatment. So I began to prefer to teenagers.
- The death of a daughter was the grief for me, and for eight months I could not get over it. Then my former students and their parents said: "... Nikolaevna, go to work!" It was a sort of order. And I decided to start over just not let them down. I realized that to keep out of society is even worse than do something. Father Igor Melnikov had blessed, and choreographic ensemble "Valeria" had been forming so gradually, through the difficulties, but with great enthusiasm of children and parents. And in 2010 we were invited to the school number 20, where Lera studied before, and now we are always there.
And then something wonderful happened. My students knew that I continued to help sick children, and supported my aspirations. We had the idea to organize a charity event. Then I realized the necessity to help steadily, not in spurts, from time to time. And I was introduced to a lovely person - Olga Pastushok. She heads the Department for Culture, Youth, Sports and Tourism and has helped us to conduct the first charity artistic perfomance in Nikopol. Irina Lagutina, my friend and the head of children's theater studio "Big Break", became the director of that perfomance. Many creative collectives of oyr town were invited to perform at the concert . Olga called a meeting and invited all head teachers of Nikopol to conduct charity events in their schools . And a lot of schools and educational institutions responded to this call: for example, representatives of schools and colleges came and brought the money collected in groups.
- I remember it was in 2010, just in February ...
- Yes! Then in Nikopol it was impossible to drive or walk, all the clouds poured rain, and in the morning it was frozen. And that was probably for the best. Those came to the concert for whom it was really important. There was such an exciting moment: kids of choreographic ensemble "Fantasy" (director Elena Snychenkova) had tears in their eyes, they could not say anything and just kept envelope with money. It was 1300 UAH. All schools collected 5000 UAH and $ 100.
- For that time it was quite a lot of money ...
- Yes. And it gave us a great experience. That event was written about in local newspapers. Other philanthropists rang me up, some retirees asked to come for 50 UAH in order to convey it for ill children. Retired veterans of NFP (Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant) collected money ...
- Still a concert is a one-time event, and sick children are in need of constant care.
- We understand that. By that time, we have established close friendships with Elena Volodina, volunteer of oncology department in Dnepropetrovsk. She kept me informed of what is happening in the children's oncology department in Dnepropetrovsk. And after the first event, we bought a bed for a functional department. Besides, in Dnipropetrovsk the same action took place, so the money was enough to make this purchase.
- It means only that this man is so far from this problem, as Mars from Earth! Functional bed is a constructor. It is possible for child to go to one side, the child can move without causing pain, you can bring a child into semi-sitting position, you can help a child to stand. Plus antiacarian mattress - it is basic that the child can not suffer from pain. And there are people who have osteogenic sarcoma, which means that he is in a cast up to the neck. And in this state, to lie on ordinary bed is impossible - it is a crime!
– So did you decide not just to transfer money to the account and to make specific purchases to specific cases?
- Yes, from that moment we have been working and will work with professionals. Not emotionally jerk back and forth, but ask the professionals - doctors, volunteers - what exactly their wards need. And then we'll help them.
- These funds do not come to the hospital in its pure form - not on the account, or to doctors or heads of departments, or whatever. Money is transferred only to buy medicines, or for the installation of the necessary equipment. In this case, we have a complete list of checks and documents.
- You decide what to give to whom?
- No, all the decisions we make collectively, foundation council makes all the decisions together. And the movement of funds shown on the site nikopolkids.org
- Tell me then, how do you determine where and how to buy a particular product? After all, for the same money you can buy medicine or equipment is completely different in quality.
- Volunteers communicate with each other and it allows each other to find out where the cheapest medicine, where there is the most effective medicine, which has stores that give discounts, where the best deals on equipment. Many volunteers work in oncology departments, pharmacies, warehouses, and we are always up to date. Procurement of the equipment and drugs bases on the principle of word of mouth. If anyone has any useful information, he'll share it, then it is carefully examined and negotiated with the doctors.
For example, such a case. The department needs hematology analyzer of blood. It is a system for rapid analysis of the blood, which allows to learn the whole blood count for one second. And in the case of cancer, it is important to know the full blood count right now, not in three hours. And we found this analyzer for 200 000 UAH. We didn't know how to get the money? Began to study further, to ask others. After a long search we found a firm that worked without intermediaries, and eventually the analyzer costed 59 thousand! Now, we have this blood analyzer purchased and installed in the children's hospital. We tried to spend money very frugally and buy only quality products. Sometimes we have to drive around town, call the different companies, and only then we decide to buy something.
- In February 2011, we held the second share in the NFP Palace. After that in the lobby Mayor Ruslan Tokar told me, "I see you are a fan of this activity. And I think that you need to go to a higher level. I suggest you set up a Foundation. " For me these words were a surprise, but thinking and realizing that the Foundtion would give new perspective, I followed the advice of Ruslan Ivanovich. We began to process documents and create a site. A few months we shake down formalities and, in June, at last, we presented the organization "Children of Nikopol." Here's a story here.
- The story is interesting. And the number of your assistants now have probably increased?
- Denis Portnoy makes the site absolutely free, Natalia Litvinova deals with finance, legal issues are decided by Oksana Ageeva, the creative part is taken by Ira Lagutina. And that's not all I have named. We do not like to show off in public, everybody who is interested in our Foundation may go to our website and read about us. Also my husband help us very much: helps with transport, makes different assignments. But the most important is the help of the Lord. Without Him none of this would have happened.
- I went to your website, and the first thing that struck me was the photo on the home page. There are you and your daughter. What do you think is it ethical?
- No, do not think that this photo is a sign of pride. Website design we agreed with Father Igor, he wasn/t against it. You see, the picture of Valeria, who has already gone into eternity, is a symbol of what we are doing all this for struggle for life, and in the honor of those who have died. And for people just to remember that any of us can face this trouble and is not immune to this. Prayer and charity - that's all we have ...
- You mentioned a few times about God, the priest, eternity ... Are you a believer?
- Yes, I'm Orthodox.
- Actually, now is quite fashionable to talk about religion ...
- I understand what you are talking about. But, you know, the one who faced the oncology can indeed become a believer. And you feel it just when you enter the Department. There is the icon near the each bed. And even though the icon is only an item, is something material, believe me, this material thing is displaying the internal state of souls. When you have a terrible diagnosis and every second you are under the risk of dying, the worldly values depart by themselves. Mind and brain do switch to a completely different wave. Here one begin to understand perishability of all that surrounds us in everyday life.
- Do you find it hard to think of her daughter's death?
- It used to be hard. It's also hard now, but this is my way. I'll pass it to the end.
- I know that some commit suicide after learning their diagnosis.
- An adult is experiencing all this tragedy, begins to panic, rush. Even if not you but your child is ill, it's a nightmare. The adult has sharpened sense of ownership, and he is afraid of losing everything: work, friends, the world, life. It's a little easier for children: the kids aren't aware of their position. But teenagers endure all things painfully. They are beginning to realize that dream may never come true ...
- What should be the approach to these children? Pity?
- In a society people relate to them primarily with pity. But this pity should not be! We had such a case. In the regional oncology department one volunteer came to help. And the first thing this girl said was, "My poor children!". For the first time mothers missed a deaf ear, and she continued in the same vein. And then mothers protested and kicked her out. It's very importatnt not to show the child that he is sick! We should communicate with them as with health. This pity can only hurt these children. Of course, patients have special needs: they are weak, they are often very painful, they are less active, but the emotionally and psychologically it is not reflected. And the easier and more natural you will be treat such a child, the greater chance is that he will go back to normal and recover.
- As I understand, now, when there is a Foundation, there are projects?
- Yes. The first thing we did - put in the town about a dozen of boxes for donations. Location of these boxes can be found on the website. With the help of it people don't puzzle their brains with bank transfers, and can directly transfer the money.
- How often do people throw money in the box?
- It depends. Sometimes, there is a big sum in one box and a little money in other one. But this is not our only project. We organize Mercy Days - the 15th day of each month. Our volunteers gather at the supermarket "Varus", and everyone can contribute. Plus there are our annual concerts.
- Is the entrance by tickets?
- No, entrance is free. You know, I was originally opposed to the charity as the show or a commercial enterprise. For example, as sometimes happens - organizers invited the star, sold tickets, and then gave the money to help someone. This is not the good approach. Often famous person or some other commercial trick sometimes does not pay off. And organizers get less money than they have spent. We are doing our perfomances by ourselves, but how much money put in a box - it's up to people. We want it to be freely and from the heart. And in the selling of tickets there is an element of the deal - we give you a show, you give us the money. It is not our case. Foundation "Children of Nikopol" helps all children of the town, regardless of age. We do not deny anyone.
- That is, everyone can come and ...
- It's not that simple. Unfortunately, the experience of other funds has shown that give money to some people is risky. There have been cases where families of ill children spend money unwise. So we went the way of specific assistance. If family needs hygiene products, we help them, if they need a means of adaptation, wealso help. A little more complicated with drugs and with money for opertion. In such a case we need not verbal information, but the actual conclusion of the doctor ...
- Do large enterprises help the Foundation?
- We feel a strong moral support from the Mayor. Before the New Year we received aletter from the company "P & G" (in Ordzhonikidze). They offered to provide the children with hygienic goods. They kept their word, and immediately after the February 15 the aid will be distributed. "Colorit" also helps to develop and deploy our billboards with information about the fund and children in need. Of course it's free of charge.
- What is the main need of the Foundation now, exept money?
- Now we with the Dnepropetrovsk volunteers started to repair in the Oncology Department of Regional children's hospital. For you to understand the importance of this case, I have to say that people are treated there for years, and they have ordinary human needs. And you know about the conditions in our hospitals. Now we are planning to fit the kitchen in the Department in order to mothers may normally cook, because the child can not live on dry rations, and the menu for children with cancer is different as for ordinary children. Therefore, we need furniture. We would be very happy if furniture companies, joiners, carpenters will help us.
- Margarita Nikolaevna, perhaps it's cynical question, but I dare to ask. What for spend money for treatment, if in most cases the cancer leads to death? If there is almost no chance to live ...
- There is always a chance! You see, that we are so smart to give a chance to the left-to-right and to decide who will live and who won't. But we forget that it is actually a chance given by God, and that most healthy people can die today, and the most severe patients can recover. I want to say that we musn't give up, we must fight to the end! Which will be this the end - we do not know, but the struggle is necessary. Just fighting, we live, and only living, we fight!
On Friday, February 10, the Foundation "Children of Nikopol" held a private charity auction of works by local artists and photographers. A total of 22 lots were put up, among them was the picture "The city of my dreams" by Ivan Tymoshenko. Ivan is ward of the Foundation, and his work became lot number 1. The drawing was sold for 1000 UAH. Among the works there were the works of such prominent artists as Nikolai Galichin, Marc Prodan, Vitaly Valsamaki, Basil Zhivoglyad... In the course of the auction we collected 33240 UAH.
P. S. All other shots are taken at another event - a concert at the Palace of Culture NFP dedicated to the Day of the Child with Cancer. Before the concert Foundation volunteers walked banks, offices, businesses, private hospitals, taking donations. The concert was organized by more than a dozen art groups from the town centers of culture, House of Children's Creativity, the Palace of Culture of the NFP, City Palace of Culture, schools number 13 and number 15. The organizers have prepared surprises for the viewers: on stage Nicholay Maruschak sang "Утверди, Боже" with the youth vocal ensemble under the direction of Anna Belyaeva, Mother Natlia and her daughter Elena and Dance Ensemble "Valeria" performed the song "Квітка-душа", Olga Pastushok, th Head of the Department for Culture, performed with girls from Ensemble "Fantasy" choreography "Glade". And the concert ended with a candle action: people buy small lamps and laid them in front of the entrance to the Palace of NFP in phrase "Надія є!" ("There is a hope!").
That day 25 thousand 615 UAH was collected. The Foundation is grateful to all who supported the ill children of Nikopol. We believe that as long as faith, love and compassion live in the hearts of people, hope really is!