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HISTORY

NEARLY 18 YEARS OF SAVING CHILDREN'S LIVES

Angels International is a registered medical charity. Until recently our work was focussed on Eastern Europe. Our primary aim is to help save the lives of children whose suffering is caused by poverty or environmental disaster. The charity currently achieves this through the regular supply of medical aid and by educating and training local medical staff and forging close links with their counterparts in the UK.

In 1989, Michael Buerk's award winning television documentary 'A Poisoned Inheritance' exposed the desperate plight of children with leukaemia in heavily polluted areas in Poland. Marzenna Hiles, a young mother of Polish origin, living with her family in Fittleworth West Sussex, was deeply moved by the film and decided that something must be done to help. She was the original driving force behind the formation of the charity and Angels International was formally launched in October 1990 .

An aid project was firmly established for several years in partnership with Dr Danuta Sonta- Jakimczyk from Zabrze, one of Angels' first medical patrons. The increased prosperity of Poland generated self-help movements within the hospital and Angels moved on to work in Bosnia and Croatia.

In 1995 Angels was approached by Dr Reiman Ismail Zade at the Children's Cancer Hospital in Minsk, Belarus. He treated many children with various forms of cancer, widely attributed to a combination of economic problems and the environmental disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1996. The charity's long-term commitment to this country began.

Trustees Julia and Karen (front left and right) & Burn team, Mogilev.

For the past thirteen years our work has been in Belarus. In addition to the Children’s Cancer Hospital we have worked principally with our incomparable partner Dr Nikolai Burakowsky and his Paediatric Infectious Diseases Ward, in Mogilev. With his input we have also created partnerships with Burns Units in Mogilev, Minsk and Brest and two other paediatric wards in Babruisk and Mogilev. Conditions have changed and improved immeasurably on all these wards.  With Nikolai’s help we have achieved far more that we ever imagined possible.

As Nikolai said in a moving speech at a farewell concert recently “our sincere gratitude to Angels for their labour of love for our children… let us remember that the earth is a small ball, that borders are relative, and the political problems are temporary, and that good works and music remain with us forever.”

 

Within all these departments, Angels has provided life saving equipment, improved infection control and established more effective treatment methods. "If equipment, environment, education and morale are the essential ingredients of satisfactory patient care, then my appraisal is that Angels International's work has had an enormous impact on the care of burn patients in Belarus." (Professor Roy Sanders BSc MB BS FRCS: Patron)

The sponsoring of further training for medical personnel has been a vital part of our programme. We are pleased to say that 32 doctors, surgeons and nurses have benefited from wonderful opportunities. 21 have trained here in the UK (some returning several times) at such hospitals as Addenbrooke's Cambridge, Birmingham Children's Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Northwick Park Hospital Middlesex, St Richard's Hospital in Chichester and the McIndoe Burn Centre East Grinstead. We have also responded to requests for specialised training at Centres of Excellence in Moscow, St Petersburg, Toksovo, Minsk and Donetsk in the Ukraine.

Dr Loban,left, (from Mogilev) training surgeons in Brest with Angelsí new equipment
Dr Yuri , burn surgeon, (2nd right) observing in operating theatre at East Grinstead

 

We also recognise the importance of encouraging attendance at international conferences. These have included conferences on oncology in Lisbon, Cairo and Paris, on Burns in Ekaterinberg, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and paediatric infectious diseases in Barcelona, Munich and Nice. We are tremendously grateful to our patrons Professor Roy Sanders and Philip Gilbert, ( Director of the McIndoe Burn Centre, East Grinstead) and Dr Tim Fooks, our medical adviser. They have all accompanied us to Belarus, giving practical help and advice to our Belarussian colleagues. Belarussian colleagues.

 

 

Philip Gilbert personally supervised the many hours of training he arranged for the Burn surgeons from Khimvolokno Hospital when they visited him in the UK. These exchange visits proved absolutely invaluable and were much appreciated. We really could not have done without this tremendous input from all concerned.

Baby Anya about to undergo intricate skin grafting

Philip Gilbert (left) with Dr Loban in op theatre, Belarus

New operating table in use

Dr Loban with Angels’ medical supplies

Dirty mattresses made infection control impossible

Conditions at Mogilve Burn Unitbefore Angels provided new mattresses etc

Waiting for an  incubator

For some time the trustees have felt that we have done our very best for all our projects in Belarus and have delivered everything we promised. But we can see that there are many more resources available to our colleagues now and everywhere we go we see great changes taking place and very positive signs of economic reform. Difficult though life may still be, there is no question that there is genuine cause for optimism.

New equipment for Burn ops provided by Angels

Dr Reiman Ismail Zade (right) with colleague at the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Minsk

Trustee Karen with two new incubators provided with funds raised by Sandra Morgan school of Dance

It is good to leave on that note. We know that through the magnificent help of our many supporters over all these years, we have managed to provide a true legacy.  As a Belarussian surgeon once memorably said to us  “You have put an end to our isolation”.  It has been an incredibly rewarding experience for all of us. None of us will ever forget it.