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Hope is alive!

March 4, 2009, 9:00 4385 Author: Irina Gavrisheva, translated by Kateryna Halfwassen www.deti.zp.ua Zaporozhye couldn’t stay aside during National action “Hope is alive” which was timed to the 15 of February, All-Ukrainian Day dedicated to the problems of children with oncology diseases

Zaporozhye couldn’t stay aside during National action “Hope is alive”, that’s why on February 16-th at 4 p.m. several dozens of volunteers, students, friends, simply compassionate people got together in front of the building of Regional Administration. This is the place where we would like to start our event – in front of the local officials first of all to remind them that problems of children’s oncology exist, that our children are still alive and they still have hope – to survive, and very often these are the officials (on every level, including local ones) who are responsible for making this hope come true.

Everyone who joined the event put a medical mask on. Just the same ones as our children have to stay in all the time… A crowd of people in medical masks in the falling rain - you won’t see such a picture in Zaporozhye often.

After standing for a while in front of the building of the regional administration with a board with an appeal to deputies to create a reserve foundation for immediate needs of children with oncologic diseases, we moved further along the main street of Zaporozhye – Lenin Avenue.

Pedestrians reacted to our company in different ways. Some of them came up closer, being interested in what we were doing and for what purpose, some of them just jumped aside, trying to run by as fast as possible. To live in a mask, to walk in our streets in a mask, to survive under the intent look of people is not easy at all – this is what each of us made sure about. Many volunteers asked me later –“how can the children stand for such pressure?” I don’t know how! The only thing I know that this is a chance for them to survive, and for us this is a chance to walk in their shoes even if only for a couple of hours, to understand them better and draw attention of society to their problems. And also… and also to show them our support. And perhaps to make them have less fear to walk outside of their houses after seeing all of us in medical masks on TV.

Our march was over in front of the building of Trade Centre «Ukraine» - probably the most popular place in Zaporozhye. Now pedestrians could see not only a crowd of strange people in medical masks, but also a board with the information about the purposes of the event. And meanwhile we started laying out words “Hope is alive” with burning candles. Nasty weather on Child with Cancer Day has already become a tradition in Zaporozhye. Last year it was snow, frost and immense cold inside the facility where a photo exhibition took place. This year it was rain, and then harsh gusts of wind.

We kept lighting candles, but the following gust of wind blew it out. Again and again… And our volunteers kept trying to find the way how to preserve the light for our children. For me it was a very symbolic spectacle – several dozens of young people were lighting candles in the word “Hope” again and again, although candles went out persistently.

People were holding candles in their hands, protecting from the wind, and then they were trying hard to shield the little lights of candles in the inscription. But candles kept on going out… and people kept on burning them.

A little bit aside there were two young women with the same name “Lena”, “conjuring” over the light. One of them is our hematological mother. Her little Serejen’ka – affecting baby-boy with fathomless eyes – died of sarcoma only 6 months ago. And Lena came to join us… She came because she knows more than anybody else what children oncology is like and how important society’s participation is in life of children with cancer. When I came up to Lena, she said: “Look, candles are burning if they are close to each other – they warm and protect each other from the wind. Just like we do when close to our children”. Yes, as long as we are close, protecting them from nasty weather of life, there is alight hope in our children’s hearts!

In that evening light was not only in little icon-lamps. The fire-girl, who performed their show during a fund raising event for Vladik Tikhonoff, volunteered to help us to draw public attention.

With no fear for cold, the girls took off their jackets and began to draw various figures in the air with their burning torches. As they confessed later – their hands were frozen cold and it was hard to hold the torches. But I still remember one girl’s face – a tongue of fire shed light on it… you wouldn’t see the face under the mask, but only the eyes. And so much desire to help was there in their eyes, so much joy to use their talent to help children with cancer when not being able to help financially that it made me understand how important it is for a person – to do something to help those who are in need.

We never could light on our inscription – as we were lighting the next candle, the previous one was blown with the wind. We gave up, just some of the candles remained burning. Later on they went out too… all of them, but one! One candle, which wasn’t warmed up by its peers around, which wasn’t shielded by the volunteers, kept burning despite everything!!! Like a symbol of hope, which is really alive!!! Always is!!! Despite circumstances and prognosis! And watching this lonely fire I made certain again of the truth of our slogan – Hope is alive!

P. S. From all my heart I would like to thank all and everyone, who supported our event. Administration of television company “Ukraine”, journalists, photographers, volunteers and fire-girls – each of them. And also each of those pedestrians, who donated for our children, each one, including whose who at least took the leaflet and read it. Our gratitude to all those people whose hearts are open for help to our children!

Irina Gavrisheva, hematologia[at]mail.ru

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