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5 Feb, 2009 15:22

Ray of hope for sick kids

They say money can’t buy happiness. But money is exactly what’s needed to improve the lives of children with serious disabilities – and lots of it.

An investment initiative in southern Russia is helping to buy the special facilities needed to change the lives of sick children.

Now a children's home in Sochi is one of the most advanced centres of its kind in the country.

The government provides the core finance, but charities and private sources donate vital additional funds.

Doctors call little Edik “our little professor” because he’s so serious. The boy is one of 33 living in Sochi's children's home for kids with serious health problems.

Edik's legs are almost completely paralyzed. But the boy still tries to take what he can from life, and seems to be enjoying each and every moment of it.

“He is a very active and cheerful boy despite the fact that Nature was unkind to him. He doesn't hang his head,” Nurse Olga Khailova says.

Most of the youngsters were abandoned by their mothers. Some were taken away from alcohol and drug-abusing parents. Many have Down’s syndrome, heart and spinal cord diseases as well as learning problems.

Last year 22 patients were adopted. Now they live in Russia and abroad.

But some, especially the ones with incurable conditions, are likely to stay at the home for years.

The doctors say they do everything they can to help. Some have been operated on in specialised clinics. Others need much less care than that.

“Of course, there are kids who need only quality treatment. For some children it is enough just to teach them to eat. Unfortunately, that is the only thing we can do,” Chief Doctor Irina Potapova says.

Sochi's children's home is one of the most advanced institutions of its kind in Southern Russia. It's being fully funded by the state. The government spends $50 a day on each child's needs.

So when famous actors and musicians from Moscow decided to help, it was a pleasant surprise for the whole medical team.

The charity concert Give Hope was held in Moscow on Thursday to raise money for several charities helping children with disabilities or those who have a disease like cancer. The concert was organised by world-famous violinist Yury Bashmet, who was also performing.

Staff from the Sochi centre are planning to spend the money raised on building repairs. But what they consider more important is drawing attention to these children's needs and the possibility that each and every one of them will find a new family.