An American of Russian origin is going to build a rehabilitation center for children with leucosis in Russia.
According to Natasha Owen, Honorary Consul General of Russia in Hawaii, she has already raised almost $1 billion to build the center in Vladivostok, Russian seaport on the Pacific.
"These children often find themselves thrown out of life," Owen, who chairs the board of the international charity Children of Russia, said in an interview with RIA Novosti ahead of the Day of Children's Protection celebrated on June 1st.
She set up the charity in the USA in 2000 in order to build Russia's first rehabilitation center for children with leucosis.
The reason she chose Vladivostok is that the local center for treating the disease annually admits up to 120 patients from different districts of the Far East and Sakhalin, Russia's island in the Pacific, but cannot ensure their rehabilitation.
"What is rehabilitation necessary for? Children and their parents live with the fear that the disease will return. Thus, it is necessary to create specific conditions for these children to help them be themselves," says Owen, who has watched work of similar centers in the USA.
According to Russian medical organizations, over 3,000 Russian children annually develop different kinds of cancer. The prevailing disease is leucosis. In case of recovery a patient has to undergo a long course of rehabilitation.
Raising money for the center "brings a lot of joy", although sometimes it is difficult to convince Russian and foreign benefactors to give money for the project, Owen says.
A significant part of the funds comes from ordinary people. "Cleaners in Vladivostok give me 10 roubles (approximately 30 cents), and it is also valuable," she says.
According to the Children of Russia charity, $760,000 has already been invested in the center, which is about 40% of its total cost estimated at $2 million.
The project is sponsored by large Russian and foreign companies.