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A Child’s Appeal from Ukraine’s Highest Mountain

Young Cossacks from Zaporizhzhya recently climbed Mt. Hoverla to read a letter from a boy from the Kalinovka internat for severely disabled children
Author: Albert Pavlov, Vladimir Krasnogolovy, translated by Daria Sukach and edited by David Sudermann, www.deti.zp.ua Published: September 20, 2011, 0:00 5510

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Dear friends,

Recently a group of young Cossacks from Zaporizhia climbed up to the highest spot in Ukraine, Mt. Hoverla so that many people could hear my appeal. If you’re reading these lines, it means they succeeded.

Now let me tell you my story: it’s the heart of my appeal.

My coming into the world was hardly a blessing for my parents. I was so unlike “normal” babies that I even frightened away the one person closest to me, my mom, who for the previous nine months had carried me right under her heart. Afraid of the reaction of relatives and neighbors, she refused to accept such a child as I, and after sipping her warm milk for just a few days, she abandoned me. After that I only saw gloomy hospital walls.

To the doctors’ surprise, I survived and was sent to a “Babies’ Home”. There I spent the first four years of my life.

Our ward echoed with children’s constant wailing and crying. Despite the fact that nurses fed and washed us, we all longed for our mothers’ love and care. Nobody truly cheered my first achievements; I was hidden away from the world and stopped developing. At age four, I could not walk or talk, and clever “aunts” and “uncles” gave me a diagnosis of “severe mental deficiency” with the label “rehabilitation impossible.”

At that point I “graduated” to an institution for older kids, the internat at Kalinovka. The “Babies’ Home” turned out to be a paradise in comparison with this place. In this remote village far away from people’s eyes 150 children were warehoused, all as miserable as I. One tenth of these children died every year, and the nearby cemetery already contained more than 400 neglected little graves.

The whole day every day we did nothing but lie in our beds staring at the ceiling or at dreary white walls. We were not children but mere vegetables withering away. We did not have a single toy and did not go outside for months. Doctors from the distant cities couldn’t face dealing with our misery and avoided visiting the internat. Well-to-do donors or volunteers did not come to us, since nobody felt like wasting half a day on the road travelling back and forth from Zaporizhzhya. In all probability no one knew or cared to know about our existence. But it did not matter to me anymore – I did my business in my pants because I could not explain to an aide that I needed to go to the toilet. She would not hear me anyway in the monotonous din of twenty-five mentally handicapped children all yelling at the same time!

But just as a ray of sunlight sometimes gets into a dark cave, such a miracle happened in our cave too!

One day several young people from a charity in Zaporizhzhya visited our internat, and the new internat director was not afraid to let them into our ward. They could not believe their eyes and could hardly hold back tears! Even though I am unable to speak, they somehow sensed my intelligence and managed to understand me.

Later these people returned, then again and again, and soon we got a volunteer teacher. She took us outdoors, helped us make handicrafts and, you won’t believe it, she taught us to read! It turned out that I was good at memorizing letters and will probably be able to learn to type on a computer keyboard! Now I can ask to go to the toilet and don’t sit in wet pants anymore! Now I have my own wheelchair and don’t need to crawl on the floor! Recently, for the first time in my life, I swam in the sea! And for the first time in my life I saw that someone took pleasure in my success! I realized that I can be of use and bring joy to someone. (Could it be to my mom? That would be my wish.)

The first time at the seaside!

Things have improved. Still, sometimes I feel sad. I’m a teenager now and one fine day they’ll transfer me to an institution for mentally ill and disabled adults, possibly Orlov, where I’ll become a vegetable again. In all likelihood I’ll not survive it one more time and will just die there.

But through the World Wide Web Happy Child volunteers appealed to other kind people, and they started to help create a family-type house for me and my friends. They have already made a new roof and are now repairing the walls. But help is still needed to buy furniture and to pay a day teacher’s salary.

Every day we see our future home getting built; our HOPE is not fading away! Before drifting off to sleep I dream of moving there, learning to work on computer, and writing a book.

This is what the home for 9 children with special needs will look like

Perhaps then my mom will find out about me and we will live together! I’ll sell many books and it will help kind people build many such houses throughout Ukraine! And it’ll inspire with hope many other unhappy children who were abandoned by their parents.

If you are moved by the appeal of the young Cossacks from Hoverla Mountain or by my story and want to help me and my friends, visit us at Kalinovka and you’ll see everything with your own eyes!

Here’s the address:

Ukraine, the Zaporizhia Region, the Chernigov District, Kalinovka village near Panfilovka off of Highway P37; call us in advance, please, +3 8 066 513 34 35).

Meanwhile, you may be ready to take my word for it and make whatever donation you wish through Happy Child, the charitable foundation of these young people I told you about above:

“Raiffeisen Bank Aval”

МФО 380805 ЕДРПОУ 35147620

Bank account №26007256219 Recipient: “The Happy Child” Charity Foundation

The payment purpose: Charitable donation


Happy Child foundation - effective help to the most needy children of the Zaporozhye region, Ukraine, since 2004

More than 16 years of trust of donors and benefactors, thousands of aid transaction processed every year. Full transparency in the usage of donation
You donated $231 992 in 2020

Our expenses in 2020

135 sick children: $127 468 
Medical equipment: $7 759
To disabled orphans: $25 169
To eco-village for orphans: $12 386
To orphans and poor families: $5 380
To adults ("Helpus" charity): $8 424
Administration and fundraising: $21 761
Total sum of expenses: $216 815 

$4 799 906 donated since 2007

They need help:

Olga Pavlenko, born in 2002, high degree cystic fibrosis

Olga Pavlenko, born in 2002, high degree cystic fibrosis

Alisa Onufriyeva, born in 2007 - cystic fibrosis

Alisa Onufriyeva, born in 2007 - cystic fibrosis

Vladislav Bogomazov, 6 years old - Cystic fibrosis, severe course

Vladislav Bogomazov, 6 years old - Cystic fibrosis, severe course

Natalya Kisluk, born February 28, 1992 - 24 years old - mixed form cystic fibrosis.

Natalya Kisluk, born February 28, 1992 - 24 years old - mixed form cystic fibrosis.

Pelageya Nesterenko, 2 y.o. – Cystic Fibrosis, Severe Condition

Pelageya Nesterenko, 2 y.o. – Cystic Fibrosis, Severe Condition


A Child Needs a Family: Alexey G., born in 2005

A Child Needs a Family: Alexey G., born in 2005

Orphans who have found a family

Orphans who have found a family

A Child Needs a Family: Danil, born in 2004

A Child Needs a Family: Danil, born in 2004