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"Oncology has found me on its own initiative"

January 3, 2007, 0:00 4080 Author: Vesta Yaraya (translated by Yulia Mirnaya for www.deti.zp.ua) Ukrainian newspaper "Island of fredom" ("Ostrov svobodi")

27 years-old resident of Zaporozhye adopted a child suffering from cancer and initiated a movement to save Ukrainian children.

Albert is an ordinary young man who leads an extraordinary life. However, Albert does not see it that way. He does not consider the fact that he is raising a critically ill child as well as his own daughter and spends most of his time helping underprivileged children "a heroic act".

As a student in the Zaporozhye's State Engineering Academy, Albert began to think about the meaning of life and what he can do to improve the lives of those around him.

Albert Pavlov: "I lived in accordance with my own pre-determined plan: I studied, joined the Ukrainian Army, got married…. But at some point I realised that life is not that simple. There are people, most importantly children, who do not have an ounce of what I have been blessed with. They do not receive any love or affection from their parents, have no opportunities to play football, go to a caf? or see a movie whenever they wish. Some children do not even have their own room and clothes.

I "woke up" after meeting Belokonny's family from Donetsk. My wife and I were inspired by their example of helping children and adults in need. Thanks to them, we were introduced to the Zaporozhye's Orphanage #3 administration. Subsequently, from 2004 onwards, my wife Luda and I have been inviting groups of orphans to spend weekends with us. Children love it. They play on our computer, watch television etc. In short, we provide them with an opportunity to live in a family atmosphere. If only you could see how happy these lovely children could be! Some of them have never seen a carpet or any kind of wallpaper - so you can imagine their astonishment when they see a computer.

Over time we became very attached to these kids, so we decided to adopt 2 brothers- Vitia and Sasha. However, due to some bureaucratic difficulties, we were only able to legally adopt a 13-year-old Vitia. We act as caretakers for his younger brother. Both boys are in a wonderful relationship with our own daughter - 2 years old Masha.

Saving children through the Internet

At the same time as going through the adoption process, Albert initiated a project that would change the lives of hundreds of Zaporozhye's children and adults

www.deti.zp.ua site was born after Albert's employer told him that the Company only had 1400 computers, hence could not spare a single computer to donate to the orphanage.

Thus Albert, an IT expert, decided to create a specialised website where those willing to help Zaporozhye's orphans could do so safely by making their donations directly to an orphanage. The website also aimed to inform people about the needs and concerns of Ukrainian orphanages and its residents.

As it turned out, Albert found a niche no one had bothered to occupy before. He was amazed to discover that majority of websites that belonged to the Government's departments responsible for the Ukrainian orphanages were not operational!

" In spite of the fact that I was not an expert in the field of fundraising for underprivileged, the website started producing much-needed results after 4 months from the date of its creation.

First, we could finally donate a computer to the Orphanage #3. But more importantly, we created a reliable, sufficient, and well informed website dedicated fully to helping children in need.

Browsing through the site you can find coordinates of many Ukrainian orphanages, read some lay-term interpretations of the Ukrainian legislation on Adoption and get acquainted, at least through your computer screen, with many orphans. What is more, the site regularly publishes information about cancer-stricken children describing their progress and needs.

Donations made through the website are guaranteed to reach those for whom they were intended. Albert and his team regularly publish photos and financial reports. They also produce evidence of frequent celebratory events the team organises for the children. For example, recently 300 bikers visited the Orphanage #3. Log onto the website to see how happy the children were to see them!

As the materials from the website are duplicated in English, information about problems and needs of the Ukrainian orphans have reached those located overseas. Through the website, people from America, Canada and Emirates have become sponsors, and in many cases, lifesavers of the children.

Our donors are people from different walks of life: immigrants, solders, students, workers…All of them, however, share a common goal- to help Zaporozhye's children.

Help is provided in many forms. For example, Jennifer, who lives in America, on top of financial donations comes to Zaporozhye to teach children English and organises parties for them. A young woman from Oxford translates our materials to English. All of them, together with the rest of our team and sponsors help to save lives" - says Albert.

Little by little, a simple website has become an internationally wide aid programme. Keep in mind that only 5 people operate it! At the same time, www.deti.zp.ua is not yet an officially registered charitable organisation, due, Albert explains, to the critical lack of time. In essence, all of the people involved are volunteers who are on top of their main profession dedicate their time to improve children's lives and to save those critically ill.

It is hard to find a more dedicated team.

Oncology has found me on its own initiative

Not long ago, thanks to the volunteers' hard work, enough funds were collected to purchase an infusion pump- a piece of medical equipment necessary for the treatment of cancer-stricken patients.

Money for the pump were collected after a little patient died due to the lack of such equipment. An American woman, after reading the patient's story, initiated the fundraising. As a result, a number of people have become dedicated to avoid such tragedy from happening in the future.

Ironically, Albert' son became a cancer patient himself: after an unfortunate fall, doctors found a tumour in his body.

Albert witnessed the conditions of the Ukrainian oncology wards first hand.

After seeing many governmental buildings with their expensive furnishings and even more expensive cars parked outside, Albert realised that the Ukrainian government's priorities lie far from developing the oncology care for the country's children.

Hence, soon www.deti.zp.ua will be expanded to include several sections dedicated solely to the children suffering from cancer. " So you see, oncology has found me on its own initiative" - says Albert, with an obvious pain in his voice.

Lifetime dream

Albert's plans are far-reaching. It has been decided to also take under the team's care children's trauma ward. In a fortnight, a "caravan" of donated presents will travel to regional orphanages in Volniansk and Guliajpole.

"Do you have enough time to do all this?" I ask. " Of course we never have enough time! We dream for a day to expand, so it has more hours" replies my interviewee " I find it difficult to even find time for my personal life" Nevertheless, Albert is very happy to do what he does.

Despite his busy schedule, he has visited the (unfortunately) infamous school in Beslan and travelled to Svanitija.

"Going there helped me to re-evaluate my life, to set up new priorities for myself. It may sound too idealistic, but I stand firm in achieving my main goal: To bring as much happiness as possible to this world, so everyone, especially children, can live in peace and harmony"

"When my first objective is met, I would not mind visiting Himalayas, Oceania or a different Galactic" He smiles.

Vesta Jaraja, Zaporozhye

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