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Ira (Irina) Gavrisheva, “Pterodactyl” (what her friends called her), struggled with her health since she was a small child. Due to a number of illnesses she was in a wheelchair and the doctors only gave her a couple years to live. Despite this, Ira found the strength in her heart to overcome despair and find meaning in life helping others. Ira was one of the founding members and drivers behind the establishment of the Charity Group “Happy Child.”. After moving to Kyiv, she started to work at the charity group “Open Hands” and was one of the founders of the initiative “Give Me Five” created to help people in palliative care.
For 31 years, Ira experienced many lives and deaths – her own and those she volunteered with. Ira helped and inspired countless people. On 9 January 2016 our Pterodactyl flew away into the heavens.
Ira has been posthumously awarded two prestigious national awards – the “Voice of Charity” and “People’s Benefactor.”
In the goodbye letter she wrote nearly one year before she passed away, Ira left a small request: “They say that in Britain there are benches placed in parks and squares in memory of those that passed away. They are very useful for the public. A bench called Pterodactyl – I’m not sure this is exact. But, I’m sure that if someone needs a tangible “Memory of the Pterodactyl” it is more useful to have a bench in a park than a piece of granite in a cemetery.”
Volunteers decided to honor Ira’s wish and collected enough money to buy a bench suitable for a park. They decided to put the bench in Oak Groves – a park perfect for families to relax. Ira worked for improving the health of children and their parents – one of the tenets of family happiness.
The director of the park, Victoria Chikalova, supported the idea and even suggested a spot. The new director of the park, Oleg Komarenko, also voiced his approval and support for the bench. Even the Deputy Mayor Vladimir Volobuev suggested that in the future a small square might be built around the bench.
Friends, family and colleagues gathered for one last time to remember and honor the wonderful and unique person. They met to remind Zaporozhe about this one-of-a-kind person that lived with us in one city and remind people of the values Ira embraced her whole life. Her mother and father – Nataliya and Aleksandr also came to the meeting. The initiators of this event hope that the bench will become a place to meet friends, volunteers and anyone else that engages in good deeds.
Ira’s family has a tradition of filling her room with balloons on her birthday. On this day we had white balloons. Then, relatives and friends wrote words of gratitude and wishes on the balloons and released the little white clouds into the sky. We hope Ira knows that we remember and love her.
We appeal to all residents of Zaporozhe with a huge request to take care of the bench – in memory of Ira and all the good deeds she accomplished!
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Publications made by Happy Child, Ukraine